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.

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  1. identicon
    Trerro, 19 May 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.

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