The New York State Senate has passed legislation that would dramatically enhance protections for New Yorkers, especially children, from sexual predators on the Internet, Senator James L. Seward said today. The senate also passed legislation that would increase criminal penalties for using a computer to commit a sex crime against a child.
"This is about protecting children from cyber predators, the pond scum that use 'My Space' and the Internet to befriend young people and then prey on them," Senator Seward said. "I want to see new laws that update our sex offender laws for the Internet age."
The new and comprehensive "Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators" act (e-STOP) establishes vital protections against sexual predators so users of the Internet - especially children - can more safely surf the Web. The legislation will restrict certain sex offenders’ use of the Internet and updates Megan’s Law for the Internet age.
"The measure will ensure greater protections for kids, more control for parents and more tools for law enforcement to better police the Internet and protect people from being victimized," Seward added.
Current laws do not provide enough protection for our children and fail to keep sexual offenders from misusing the Internet. Unfortunately, recent investigations have found that social networking sites have become an easy way for sexual predators to prey upon our children.
The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (S.6875-A) would allow New York to fight the increasing misuse of the Internet. The law would force sex offenders to register their online identifiers; the social networking sites could then use that information to ban sexual predators.
The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators (e-STOP) Act:
• Requires that sex offenders register all of their Internet accounts and Internet identifiers (e-mail addresses and designations used for chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communication) with the State Division of Criminal Justice Services;
• Authorizes the Division of Criminal Justice Services to release state sex offender Internet identifiers (e-mail addresses and designations used for chat, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communication) to social networking sites and certain other online services, that may be used to prescreen or remove sex offenders from using the site’s services, and notify law enforcement authorities and other government officials of potential violations of law and threats to public safety;
• Requires, as a condition of probation or parole, mandatory restrictions on a sex offender’s access to the Internet where the offender’s victim was a minor, the Internet was used to commit the offense or the offender was designated a level 3 (highest level) offender. Such offenders would be banned from accessing social networking web sites, accessing pornographic materials, communicating with anyone for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with a minor, and communicating, in most circumstances, with anyone under the age of 18.
The senate also today passed legislation that establishes a new felony offense, "computer sex crimes," when an offender uses a computer to facilitate and commit a sex crime against a child. The bill (S.1921-A), significantly increases the penalties for anyone found guilty of using a computer to commit a sex crime against a child.
The bill also puts computer sex crimes under the umbrella of a "designated offense," allowing law enforcement to obtain eavesdropping or video surveillance warrants.
The bills were sent to the Assembly.