The news of the day is this – the year’s 2nd “most useless” idea for online safety. The first, of course, being the MySpace agreement.
Now, my own state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo – along with Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – has proposed legislation that would require sex offenders to provide their Internet identities to the state, which would then share the information with social networking sites like MySpace to protect users from online predators.
It’s called the “Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act,” or e-STOP. Sex offenders would have to report their online information to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. That includes all e-mail addresses, chat and instant messaging names and online social networking identities. Now, state corrections law already requires offenders to provide Internet screen names, but the new legislation would clarify and expand the information they must supply and permit sharing it with social networking sites and other online services. If offenders don’t report changes in their online identities within 10 days, they can be charged with a felony.
You can read the AP story here: NY Bill Regulates Sex Offenders’ Web Use.
Anyone see the ridiculousness of this. It’s yet another publicity stunt by politicians to make people a) think they are really doing something here b) have a false sense of security c) be persuaded to vote for them. In reality, this will only prevent the small percentage of sex offenders that will be playing by the rules. And remember, the percentage of people arrested for this are not registered sex offenders. There’s a first time for everything…
Oh and it’s only for sex offenders registered in New York.
It’s not that it’s not a good idea. No no, don’t get me wrong – I am glad to see people taking the issue seriously. But let’s all hold our applause till the end, OK folks? There really isn’t a point to praising something that will most likely end up having little or no effect.
Instead, how about we put more money towards mandatory education in schools? How about the government grants small companies like ours to distribute PC Pandora to families so parents can regain control of their little user’s online activity?
Parents, don’t be fooled by these new agreements you are hearing about. It’s a long time before they take effect, and even longer until the work (like, never). You are responsible for what your child does online and whom they are talking to. If you need help, invest in the technology that is available. With monitoring software like PC Pandora you will know everything and be able to do something about it.