by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
email, new york, politicians, sex offenders, usernames

NY State Demands Email Addresses/Usernames Of Sex Offenders

from the grandstanding-to-protect-the-children dept

Chris writes in to let us know about a new law passed in NY State that requires any sex offender to register any email addresses and screennames with the government. Any time a sex offender registers a new name or email address, he needs to alert the state within 10 days. While you can understand the grandstanding reasoning behind this ("protect the children!"), this really does seem fairly pointless. It's similar to a federal proposal, and all it really does is create a huge bureaucracy. Despite what the mainstream media has portrayed, the vast majority of sex offenders are not online stalking people. Most involve people known to the offender (all too often family members). In fact, recent research has shown that the whole "internet threat" thing is totally overblown. This isn't to absolve sex offenders of their crimes -- but to question the reasoning behind this sort of law. Those who are really out to stalk kids online will simply ignore this law -- and all NY State gets is a big bureaucratic mess tracking usernames and emails.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), May 19th, 2008 @ 9:02am


    Now the state workers can use sex offender email and profiles to surf kiddie porn, email little boys, and they have a whole list of possible offenders to use. Then the sex offender gets the charge.
    I really don't see how they can enforce it. If you get caught doing anything illegal with or without a registered name, your still caught. Probably just another charge they can get you with. Pointless!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    JB, May 19th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    There are 26,000 names in the NY registry. How many of them are even in the registry because their crime involved a minor?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    shanoboy (profile), May 19th, 2008 @ 9:21am


    Wow, these guys sure demonstrate that they're totally oblivious to how the net actually works.

    Anything to "protect the children" RIGHT? That seems to be the golden ticket for any politician.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    anon, May 19th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    as a sex offender

    I'm a sex offender (18 year old with 16 year old girlfriend)

    what constitues a username?

    If this goes into effect here, I'd have to register pages upon pages of names and emails.

    what about work emails? I don't own it... my company does, do I have to list that? I can see this hurting the company as people will obviously look at what companies employ sex offenders and give them negative rep - thus I'll have a harder time finding a job.

    Does world of warcraft count? What about counter-strike or other games where I can change my name at will but still talk to people.

    Myspace? facebook? Linkedin? Ebay? Amazon? wikipedia?

    I also own about 50 websites, which total about 2,000 email addresses (as i use help@ webmaster@ support@ myname@, etc..)

    This will provide no help to anybody - but it will bring much harassment to those who don't deserve it.

    We did our time, we complied with probation - stop imposing more rules on us. If you think we're dangerous put us in jail.

    Since you let us out, treat us like anybody else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    mkam, May 19th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    typo nazi

    3rd from last sentence, "Most involve known to the offender" should probably read "Most involve people known to the offender".

    Whatever happened to teaching your kids to not talk to strangers? I make it a point to try not to vote for people that present these 'for the children' bills. I imagine the grandstanding must have a pretty high return for vote garnering, or they wouldn't all do it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Ken, May 19th, 2008 @ 9:33am


    Hopefully they have an electronic means to report this info. If I were you I'd make a web app to host on your server, and then another app that continually makes new usernames and automatically reports them for you, might as well keep em busy.

    I saw an article not to long ago (unfortunately I can't find it now), about a guy that was supposed to report to the govt every time he moved. He decided to go above and beyond and mailed the agent a postcard every time he walked by one of the blue mailboxes on the side of the road..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    boost, May 19th, 2008 @ 9:59am

    sounds like something I've heard before...

    This sounds an aweful lot like gun control. I bet it will work just about as well too. (read: not at all)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Nate Nead, May 19th, 2008 @ 10:14am

    Either way...

    There's two sides to every issue...If it makes parents sleep better at night, whatever. But, I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    Re: Either way...

    I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

    A false sense of security is not security.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Trerro, May 19th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Typical mix of politicians and the internet

    The sex offender registry is a terrible idea, because most of the people on it are guilty of extremely minor offenses (public urination, streaking, even mooning can land you on there.) Then there's the "age of consent" cases where someone is guilty of "rape" for being 16 years and 0 days old, and having consensual sex with someone who is 15 years and 364 days old.

    We have created a society where someone who is stupid one night, drinks too much, and gets caught peeing in a parking lot will receive a penalty of being unable to get a real job for the rest of his life (unless he can self-employ), and being shunned and exiled by neighbors everywhere for the rest of his life. That seems a bit severe for something that used to carry a tiny fine and maybe a small community service order.

    Then again, in a society where the average sentence for pot exceeds the average sentence for negligent homicide, I guess that fits right in with the "justice" system we have.

    What ever happened to making the punishment fit the crime, instead of "declaring war" on concepts? It's not hard to see the connection between us being #1 in the world for percentage of our population in prison, and the fact that we have these insane laws imposing stupidly long sentences, or in the case of the registry, eternal sentences for trivial crimes.

    This particular law is not only unfair for the vast majority of people affected by it, it's also technologically ridiculous.

    I would imagine that just about every active net user has at least a dozen accounts, and that just covers the basics like email, a favorite forum or two, etc.

    If you're a gamer, add dozens to that - 1/game, or in the case of a game where there's no central account to tie stuff to, 1/character/army/city/deck/whatever makes sense for the game. Web site owners have several addresses for their site, and of course, many people run dozens of small sites. Now think about every blog you made an account on to participate in one discussion thread, every site that made you sign up to get a file, and all the other web accounts that you used once for 5 minutes, then never logged into again. It'd not unreasonable to have 100 or more accounts.

    Of course, that assumes you don't have a catchall, either because you run a website and need a *@yourdomain account to not lose stuff from people who can't figure out where to send it, or because you have a dedicated email domain and file stuff into folders based on what address it was sent (as well as probably using stricter spam filter settings on certain ones.) If you use a catchall, then your number of screenames is technically infinite, and all possible names exist, even if they've never been used and have no entry in a database. Are you supposed to run a bot script that infinitely submits names to that database? :p I'm sure they'd love having their servers hammered with a few thousand bots trying to comply with this law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Kevin, May 19th, 2008 @ 11:10am

    Re: Either way...

    There's two sides to every issue...If it makes parents sleep better at night, whatever. But, I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

    Uh-huh. But it's better to actually BE safe than to just FEEL safe. Unfortunately, this bill doesn't do ANYTHING to make anyone safer whatsoever. But it will create substantial additional bureaucratic red-tape that will inconvenience people and cost tax-paying citizens money. More to the point, that's tax money that can't be used on something that actually DOES make people safer...or healthier...or whatever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Idle hands, May 19th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    One problem. If they gonna fukkin abuse kiddies, then they are not bothered about the law ne way, so its hardly like its gonna be a big deal to them.

    "Hey Mr policeman heres an email address i'm gonna use to groom ANUTHA kiddie"

    Just do away with the fukkers n be done with. Castrate the twats.

    Have our politicians got nothing better to do than to create "work" for themselves. We have just passed this law in the UK. Do we really think its going to make a difference ?

    USA, u got the death penatly, USE it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Nate, May 19th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    Not that I stick up for the sex offenders... personally, I would like to kill all of them (at least child molesters)... but this is rather pointless. I understand the intent, but it is almost completely untrackable. How is the state going to know how many nicknames or email addresses one person has? http://www.custompcmax.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    PaulT (profile), May 19th, 2008 @ 12:11pm


    "How is the state going to know how many nicknames or email addresses one person has?"

    They won't.

    "personally, I would like to kill all of them (at least child molesters)"

    ...and that's the real can of worms. Should child rape automatically carry higher penalties than adult rape? What constitutes molestation? - there have been countless reports where the term has been misused for everything from a parent spanking their kid to a teacher holding a kid to stop them from beating on another child - where's the line? What about those people who are technically guilty of child rape, even though they were only 14 at the time themselves? How do you separate those who represent a real danger from those who got caught out doing something minor (the aforementioned mooning offences, for example).

    Sadly, I think I'm asking more pertinent and realistic questions here than anyone involved in this kind of legislation ever does - easier to make it look like you're doing something than actually doing something that will be effective.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Overcast, May 19th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    It's just to make people feel a little better when they let them out of jail far too early.

    Gotta make room for real criminals - like potheads, you know?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Nate, May 19th, 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re:

    I know, it is a can of worms. And I know that isn't the real solution, because of the varying degrees of abuse. But, I am sick and tired of adults that prey on children for sexual gratification. If it were up to me, and it was proven beyond a doubt that an adult molested a child, severe punishment is warranted.

    But, that is a personal opinion. And how to sort out the real "baddies" from the spanking your child cases... I don't know. But someone who rapes a child does not deserve to breath the same air as you an me. And when I say rape, I mean forcible sex. I am not talking about the guy who is 18 having consenual sex with his 17 year old high school girl friend. Again, how you sort it out, I am not sure... but, that is why I am not a judge.

    But, I am the same person who would like to see people who fight pitbulls (or abuse animals in anyway) put to death. Basically, if you are abusive to children or animals, you are a POS in my book. So, my opinions could be taken as a bit extreme.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    JB, May 19th, 2008 @ 1:20pm


    How is the state going to know how many nicknames or email addresses one person has?

    This probably isn't for policing, but rather for after-the-fact piling-on by the prosecutor. Get access to the person's computer, see evidence of a yahoo email address that wasn't reported, add 5 years to the person's prison sentence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Norm, May 19th, 2008 @ 2:08pm

    Preschool sexual abuse hysteria anyone??

    How many people were found guilty of all kinds of child sexual abuse and later exonerated. I shudder to think about the kind of thinking that would have killed all these people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    R. H., May 30th, 2008 @ 12:41am

    Re: as a sex offender

    What is happening to people like yourself is the reason that I disagree with sex offender registries and the like. I thought that the point of our corrections system was to lock a person who has been convicted of a crime away from the general public for a set period of time and, when that debt to society has been paid, let them go and live a free life again. I'm in awe that no one has tried to overturn some of these laws using the 8th amendments 'cruel and unusual punishment' clause. Having to actively register oneself as having committed a crime in the past seems like quite an unusual punishment to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    jig, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 11:44pm

    sexual job

    i m 27year old. live in sambalpur (orissa).my want is join ur union.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Eric Justian, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 8:58pm

    E-mail Addresses

    I would like to say that while they are getting all of us sex offenders adressess and info they are getting aawy with treason yet no one cares save the children remember that is why this all started,
    but the former gov spitzer was a criminal also what is his punishment? nothing like a sex offender but he was a sex offender himself also a thief right? stay distracted we are sitting here on this computer but we are not walking the protest line so where does all of this really go? they will always get what they want because the children need the prtection from our great governments, they won't get money if they don't keep this stuff up so say goodbye to thye constition now you won't get your chance later.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    velu, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 5:23am

    Re: as a sex offender



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Orissa News, Nov 22nd, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Oriya Classifieds

    This article is very interesting. Thank you very much for sharing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    David, Feb 4th, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: as a sex offender

    One would think, but one would be wrong.

    Just published a book by a registered offender... the list is a sick, sick joke. Benefits the small time politician though.



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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