NY State’s Next Step in Fight Against Online Predators

Earlier this week, the North Country Gazette reported a story about the NY State Senate’s efforts to further increase protections to kids online by taking another whack at would-be predators. Since I live in the state, I have a soft spot for these stories. You can read the full article here: Senate Okays Exploitation Prevention Act

Here are the juicy bits:

The New York State Senate has passed and sent to the Assembly a comprehensive plan that would enact aggressive measures to protect children from the dangers posed by Internet predators, child pornography and child sexual abuse. The “Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Act of 2008″ (S.6747) is based upon recommendations made in a report released by the Senate Majority Task Force on Critical Choices entitled, “Protecting Children in the Internet Age.”

The report highlights the strong link between child pornography possessors and individuals who sexually victimize children. This comprehensive legislation will:

  • Toughen penalties for promoting child prostitution;
  • Increase penalties for producing child pornography;
  • Provide enhanced penalties where a sex crime against a child has been committed using a computer or computer service;
  • Increase the penalty for persons who permit their premises to be used for child prostitution;
  • Allow the admission of business records into evidence in child pornography grand jury proceedings via affidavit;
  • Allow a “non-judicial” subpoena to be issued by a district attorney or the Attorney General for child pornography via the internet; and
  • Require local social services districts, when possible, to establish safe houses for sexually abused children.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed Attorney General Cuomo’s e-STOP initiative (Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act) that requires sex offenders to register their online identifiers and updates Megan’s Law for the Internet age (S.6875-A, Skelos). The Senate also passed legislation (S.1921-A), sponsored by Sen. Robach, to increase criminal penalties for using a computer to commit a sex crime against a child. 4-2-08

This new bill and the provisions within are an excellent next step. There is really no way anyone could argue against these protections in place. They do not limit the average user’s Internet freedom… that is, unless that user’s interests are in child pornography. While I will step out of the “registering” part of the debate, I think this is the way law enforcement in each state needs to go:

  • Make it illegal for a would-be predator to use the Internet to solicit a child
  • If they are caught, use every piece of evidence against them
  • And then make the penalty as stiff as possible

This is what the case would be if a predator was found kidnapping kids on a neighborhood playground; it should be no different in the digital one.

Parents, remember to know where your kids are and what they are doing. Monitor their activity with software like PC Pandora 5.0… Knowing, without question, what they are doing when they step into the digital worldwide playground is an essential part of 21st century parenting. There is no reason not to know…

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