Wow, That Attorney General Must Really Care About The Kids!

from the waste-of-time-and-money dept

There's been a lot of talk (well, more so than usual) lately about how to protect kids from internet predators on sites like MySpace, with politicians from all over looking to come in and put in place ineffective measures that do little more than provide a PR opportunity to show how much they care about the children. Virginia's attorney general is getting in early, saying he's going to propose a law that would force sex offenders to register their email addresses and IM screen names with the state so sites can block them. MySpace is enthusiastic about the proposal, because it makes its plan to weed out predators look like more than the lip service it really is. But, of course, like the most recent plan to stop illegal content, it would also require a massive bureaucracy. Who would enforce the law, and make sure that offenders weren't just registering one identity -- or indeed, none at all -- and using a different one? Even with sufficient investigators to keep tabs on these things, it's a pointless strategy because it's completely ineffective, and will actually do absolutely nothing to protect children online. The attorney general concedes the plan is useless: "This is not a foolproof approach, as we all fully realize how easy it is to get new email addresses. But by requiring registration, and by making the penalties for failure to register the same as those for failure to register physical and mailing addresses, we will take another positive step towards protecting children online." No, you really won't -- because email addresses and screen names are useless information to keep track of. But who cares, when the media portrays you as a great protector of children?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    SimplyGimp, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 7:31pm

    Pathetic

    This is an ongoing problem with politicians. They learn the buzz words and some of the more 'larger' issues that are ON THE NEWS, not so much that the people are concerned with them, then they talk like they're going to institute change. Rarely does change actually happen.

    Then again, the voters are to blame as well, because sadly this tactic works wonders, especially around voting time. So until the people of this country wise up (not so much the people on here who "get it") things will stay the same, money will be wasted and nothing will really be done.

     

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  2.  
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    Ryan, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 7:33pm

    this is just the beginning

    It won't be long until we ban sex offenders from using the internet. Then comes state sponsored castration.

    Nobody complains when we impose restrictions on sex offenders... then it's only a small step to do it to all criminals, then anybody with a speeding ticket, then democrats....

    the next logical step is monitoring of all americans email...just to make sure sex offenders aren't using wrong addresses...

     

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  3.  
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    EFX, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 7:35pm

    Bravo SimplyGimp

    Took the words right out of my... fingers? (typing!)

    You da man!

     

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  4.  
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    Russell Williams, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 7:40pm

    The way things work

    No. This is one of them “Extra” things that they add onto somebody’s criminal count AFTER they hit them on something else. It would work like this… You get busted for walking on the grass. They test your record and find you were VERY naughty back in the 60’s. They pull your online traffic report with the help of your ISP and MySpace. Oops, your mails don’t jibe – your going down.
    -George Orwell

     

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  5.  
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    mike, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 7:45pm

    have I been watching to much law and order???

    I see the potential legal aspect though that if they withheld information like there e-mail address which they were supposed to report Its another law they broke which could be useful in a case. I guess?

    as a help for the government to track these people online forget it wast of time and money!

     

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  6.  
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    Mike, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 8:07pm

    Missing the point

    Of course this isn't going to stop anyone from using myspace, but it can give prosecutors a tool to make convictions when other evidence is hard to come by.

     

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  7.  
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    Ryan, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 8:19pm

    no mike

    you're wrong. It won't give them any tools when evidence is hard to come by.

    The only way to prove a sex offender used a non registered email address is to look at their computer. You still can't do that without a warrant, and you need evidence for that.

    The only way they can prosecute somebody for this, is if they already have evidence against them for something else.

    it's 100% pointless. Not to mention it'll open up the offenders to TONS of undue harassment and spam.

    I emailed McCain to ask why he thinks it's ok for sex offender emails to be publically listed, but his remains hidden behind an email form.

     

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  8.  
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    Steve, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 8:41pm

    I totally agree. This is just a waste of money. The only thing that can fix this, is proactive parenting. Your kids may be pissed off, but your 14 year old daughter won't be raped by a 42 year old man. I guess I'll take the pissed off child. She will understand later.

     

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  9.  
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    Paul`, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 10:11pm

    Or we could make one umberala organization that moniters everything that anyone does ever. For the good of the children.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2006 @ 11:28pm

    Registering email addresses! What a laugh!

    I have my own domain and my provider allows me to have unlimited email addresses. So I could have more email addresses than there are atoms in the universe. With just one letter long address, I have 26 possibilities, with 2 characters long, I can have 936. Even with just 8 characters long for the name, I'm already over 2.037 X 10^12 email addresses. For those that don't understand that number, it's a 2 with 12 zeros after it, or over 2 trillion.
    I wonder what kind of database system the enforcing agency will have to be able to hold all that data. How are they going to enter that data? One at a time?

    What morons came up with that idea? Even if they hired all the population of the USA just to type those in, it would be a unfinished task, and that is with just one offender. And there are how many in the states?

     

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  11.  
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    simon, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 1:17am

    what about

    best way to keep those kids safe, is keep them offline, while alone, and monitor all surfing behavior of the computer, so no junk from internet should interfere with their life.

    rest is just blaming a banana dealer for providing bannanas, cose u step on a peel and felt....

    just me .02

     

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  12.  
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    Brad, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 1:44am

    Sex offenders: worse than murderers

    Why is this country so hard on Sex Offenders? It seems surprising to me that people convicted of multiple homicides, once their prison term is up, don't have to go door to door, telling everyone that they killed someone. Why do sex offenders?

    The Sex Offender title is very harshly applied. Here's an example, from a friend of mine:

    Suzy and Joe meet in High School. Suzy is 14 and Joe is 17. They date for years, and Joe graduates. He turns 20, and Suzy is only 17. One day, Suzy has a fight with another student. She turns around and tells her teacher that Suzy has a relationship with an older man (Suzy's parents are well aware, and approve). The teacher (outraged!) calls the police, and charges Joe with Statutory Rape. He is sentenced to four years in prison. When he is released, he is labeled a "Sex Offender" for the rest of his life. Joe and Suzy got married after he got out of prison, and have a child.

    He can't work with children or live within 5 miles of a school. His child's school won't allow him on or within 100yds of school property. He can't get a job very easily, since every background check reveals "4 years in prison - sex offender for rape".

    Yes, lets protect the children, while Drug Dealers and Murderers are allowed back into society once they've "Served their time".

    The system is broken.

     

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  13.  
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    ella, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 2:33am

    Once again, what happened to parenting by paying attention? Or, god forbid, raising a child with an ounce of common sense.

    I'm not paying taxes for the government to parent someone else's kid, thanks very much.

    Oh, and for all the parents who get out the hankies and the violins and say, "Oh, but I work, and sometimes I have to leave Junior home alone." Cry me a river, people. Set a limit--put a password on the computer that your kid doesn't know. That way, you control when they access the internet. Or, even better, actually sit down and talk to your kid about the dangers of the internet. If you've done something other than shitty parenting, your kid will have a brain in his/her head and will understand why certain behaviors are unacceptable, like meeting people from Myspace or whatever without parental permission and supervision.

     

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  14.  
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    steve, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 4:14am

    sex offender emails

    The state does not hold title to our email addresses, there for they can not allow them to be used for profit
    without our permission, also this law will open the door to the records of private companies.

     

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  15.  
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    The infamous Joe, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 4:42am

    le sigh.

    With sites like pookmail.com, tempinbox.com and 10minutemail.com, this subject becomes ever more ridiculous.

    Let's allow darwinism to work it's magic.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 4:46am

    "The only way to prove a sex offender used a non registered email address is to look at their computer. You still can't do that without a warrant, and you need evidence for that."

    Nope. You could also track IP and go to their provider, get their CC#, track that to their name and SSN. Technically the provider could require a warrant, but I bet they won't risk the bad press.

     

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  17.  
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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Dec 13th, 2006 @ 6:19am

    Re: Registering email addresses! What a laugh!

    > Even if they hired all the population of the USA just to type those in, it would be a unfinished task, and that is with just one offender.

    So are you saying you're an offender?

     

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  18.  
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    Ryan, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 6:47am

    nope..

    "Nope. You could also track IP and go to their provider, get their CC#, track that to their name and SSN. Technically the provider could require a warrant, but I bet they won't risk the bad press."

    actually, that won't prove it either... that just proves somebody at their computer used a non registered email address.

    I'm assuming this wouldn't apply to the sex offender's kids, wife, friends, etc.

    how often have you let somebody use your computer real quick?

    There's no way to enforce this without seeing the content of the email, and that requires a warrant.

     

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  19.  
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    Yakov, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 7:02am

    Good Idea

    I seem to be the only one who thinks it's a good idea. I don't care about the logistics of keeping tabs and verifying the information. The key is require them to register. That's all. And if they don't and somehow the state finds out, they violate their parole. Enforcement is a different issue, but the idea is correct. We make them register their addresses, this is a modern world, if the state is going to keep tabs on pervs, lets make sure we at least have the laws on the books that require them to register this info with some penalties if they don't. Everyone wants to bash him for trying to get attention, but the idea is long over due. Sometimes politicians acting in their self interest do come up with good ideas that can help the public.

     

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  20.  
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    Witty Nickname, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 7:04am

    1. Harvest e-mail addresses of Sex Offenders.
    2. Send out SPAM for Viagra and Cialis
    3. ?????
    4. PROFIT!

     

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  21.  
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    The infamous Joe, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    "A witty nickname proves nothing"

    That's an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

    Thanks for playing. Merrry Christmas!

     

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  22.  
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    The infamous Joe, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 7:26am

    Re: Good Idea

    There are so many things wrong with this, both in theory and in practice.

    First off, I'm not even really sure why sex offenders are still tracked after they get out of jail? Jail is for rehabilitation: Either it works or you don't let them out. If you let them out, then they've paid their 'debt' to society, repented for their sins or what have you-- leave them be. That, or track every other ciminal as well. I'm surprised this hasn't come up before in the legal system.

    As for you, Mr/s Yakov, not caring about logistics of keeping tabs: If our glorious government starts making rules they can't enforce, they'll be seen as (more) incompetent and weak(er). The simple fact is this won't stop anyone from getting on mysapce-- sites like pookmail.com and tempinbox.com make a email address for a day (so you can register for the site, e.g. MySpace) and then it's deleted. So, we can make all sorts of dumb rules that we can't possibly enforce, and look like incompetent boobs.

    Furthermore, an email address is nothing like a real address... an IP address might be closer, but an email address is usually anonymous, and disposable. It would be like asking sex offenders to register all their tents.

    ..and I'm oretty sure this isn't about sex offenders who are on 'parole' but ALL sex offenders. The poor bastard who gets caught pissing in public behind a bar and the 18 year old boy or girl with a 16 year old significant other (who may or may not end up marrying that person) are also sex offenders... I don't know a guy alive that hasn't pissed in public, somewhere...

    Life is silly, let's not make it worse.

     

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  23.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 7:30am

    Re: Sex offenders: worse than murderers

    That has always bothered me too.

    With the way the court system is these days you can get away with multiple murders with only a decade or so in prison and then free and all you have to deal with is the "convicted felon" section of a job application.

    Meanwhile the guy in Brad's example has a long list of lifetime brands to deal with for a crime that frankly is not on par with murder, especially multiple murders. Yes contrary to what the media and politicains say there are worse things than raping a child.

    Hell you get in more trouble for raping a child than killing a child.


    No I don't have kids but consider this. If a child is raped and lives they at least have a chance to live through the psychological and physical damage and not let that one experience shape the rest of their lives. If a child is killed, thats it, no chance to live through it.

     

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  24.  
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    lil'bit, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Sex offenders: worse than murderers

    Because sex offenders are the one group that absolutely no one (except for you and I) are willing to publically support.

    My question to those who want to lock up sex offenders forever or monitor them forever is, will you feel the dsame way when it's your dad/brother/uncle/cousin/nephew? Because as with violence against women, most offenses are perpetrated not by strangers, but by family members and friends.

     

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  25.  
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    Jim, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 6:05am

    Wait until you see microsfts new product

    This product w/ Beyond The Stars is the best. It automatic checks the national sex offender registry and homes in on key words in E-mails and pop ups

     

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  26.  
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    Shirley Stacey, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 7:06am

    Re: Sex offenders: worse than murderers

    I have to agreed with you on your statements that sex offenders is a term applied under one umberlla putting all sex offenders in the same catagory. The term"computer sex" should be applied to those that have been arrested and sentenced for child pronography for receiving, sending, and looking plus talking in chat rooms. There are those that have never left they home or apartment but have done the above and are labled as sex offenders for the rest of their lives and serve anywhere now from 10 to 20 years for this. Only if you molest or rape a child do you get above 20 to life, but the first time offender that only looks, sends, and talks gets the label sex offender for his life and serves 10-20 years now with the new laws. I think our society has gone crazy over laws protecting children and each state is now making thier own laws where they can live, what type of jobs they can't have, who they can have contact with, etc. It's crazy. Now they want them to register their e-mail address so they can be monitored. Why aren't the murders that have been released put on a register and have these laws apply to them. Same with alcoholics that have killed someone while driving. I find that due to the internet that alot of opportunties have been put in front of people that they have made wrong decisions and should have not answered or looked at, but for someone that has done it and pay their dues, gone through treatment, and come out, what purpose are they suppose to serve in our real world if you keep kicking them down with all the laws? Get real, isn't the purpose of treatment programs to help them and get them back into the real world and be able to function and have a life and be productive. How can this be with all these crazy people running around screaming save the kids and kill the sex offenders. What is a sex offender? There are different degrees of offenders and no one seems to realize this. Please get a grib on what's real and what's not.

     

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