Senator Joe Robach And Attorney General Cuomo Announce “e-stop” Legislation

Joseph E. Robach

March 26, 2009


Senator Joseph E. Robach joined Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Monroe County District Attorney Michael C. Green, Rochester Mayor Robert J. Duffy, and Assemblymember Joseph D. Morelle today to announce the Attorney General’s new e-STOP legislation and its protections against sexual predators online.

The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), introduced with bipartisan support in the Senate and Assembly, is the nation’s most comprehensive legislation to deal with the threat of sexual predators on the Internet. It also creates the country’s first mandatory ban on sexual predators from social networking Web sites.

Senator Joseph E. Robach said, “Sexual crimes against children are amongst the most heinous in our community.  The Internet is a wonderful tool that has transformed and improved the lives of millions of people. Unfortunately, sexual predators have also made it a dangerous weapon that can be used to victimize innocent children.  I commend Attorney General Cuomo for his leadership on developing the e-STOP legislation and I thank him for his continued efforts to protect our young children.”

Attorney General Cuomo said, “Existing laws protecting children from sexual predators have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology. Government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens, and e-STOP will be effective at helping prevent sexual predators from using the Internet to victimize our children. With e-STOP signed into law, New York’s children will have the nation’s most comprehensive protections against sexual predators on the Internet.”

Executive Director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's New York Chapter Ed Suk said, “There are more than 627,000 registered sex offenders in the United States today, many of whom use the relative anonymity of the Internet to seek child victims. Unfortunately, the law has not kept up with the challenges posed by advancing technology. However, with e-STOP, sexual predators must register their Internet usage with the proper law enforcement authorities. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children fully supports this legislation and we are grateful to Attorney General Cuomo and the New York Legislature for working together to pass this vital, bipartisan measure.”      

Passage of e-STOP would prohibit sexual predators from accessing social networking sites and restrict their Internet usage in a variety of other ways. It would require sex offenders to register all of their instant message screen names and any other online identifiers, and would give access to that information to companies with social networking Web sites. Those companies would then be able to prescreen and block access by convicted sex offenders.

Also, sex offenders have been shown to have recidivism rates far higher than those who commit other types of crimes.

According to the state Division for Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), there are 926 registered sex offenders in Monroe County.

Also according to DCJS, New York State has more than 25,000 registered sex offenders.

9,604 are level 2 registered sex offenders (moderate risk to commit another sex crime).

6,937 are level 3 registered sex offenders (high risk to commit another sex crime and a threat to public safety exists).

The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators (e-STOP) Act:

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.

Requires that sex offenders register all of their Internet accounts and Internet identifiers (email 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 (email 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.

Both MySpace and Facebook, with tens of millions of users each, have taken significant steps to protect their users and supported efforts to create new laws protecting all Internet users from sexual predators. Both companies agreed the new registry information e-STOP creates would help them be better able to block sex offenders from their sites.

Senator Robach also joined Attorney General Cuomo in advising parents to take preventive steps to keep their children safe included in How to Occupy Space on Social Networking Websites Safely:

Be cautious about sharing your personal information online that can be used to locate you offline. This includes your screen name, personal photos, hobbies, social security numbers, address, phone number, bank or credit card number, and for children, the schools they attend. Remember, websites for underage users are not permitted to request personal information without a parent's permission.

Do not share information online that you would not share offline – There are no “Takebacks.” Once information is posted online, it cannot be removed.  If deleted or modified, older versions continue to exist online. Share information that is appropriate for the public. Remember, colleges and potential employers may rely on a social networking website to check you out.

Use Privacy Settings to restrict access. Social networking websites provide a variety of privacy settings that can restrict access to personal information. These settings block unknown individuals from breaking into your account and misusing your profile and information.

Install safeguarding programs with monitoring or filtering capabilities. Your online service provider may offer these services. Setting up a monitoring product is like a having a camera in the corner of your local bank – it can help collect evidence for law enforcement and trace a predator, if necessary.

Watch out for unsolicited messages and emails. Do not respond to emails or download attachments you are not expecting. Some viruses can “spoof” the name and email address of friends and fool users into an unwanted online relationship.

Beware of inappropriate or threatening online behavior.  Risky online behavior can lead to cyber crimes. It may start with an online stranger following you into chat rooms, breaking into your account, abusing your personal information, sending you sexual solicitations or signing you up for porn sites and IM.  Pay attention to these predators. Websites do not have the capability to verify ages or information of their users. 

If in doubt, report it! If you believe that a predator is communicating with you or your child, you must report it. In every case where a child is molested or killed by an Internet sexual predator, law enforcement find messages sent to the predator by parents threatening to report them. Do not hesitate to report it.