Email Address Registry for Sex Offenders

26 May
May 26, 2007

"The Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation on Thursday that will require convicted sex offenders to register their "electronic mail address, instant message address, or other similar Internet communication identifier" with the state’s Commissioner of Public Safety. The penalties for failing to register an e-mail address would be identical to the failure to register a residential address, and include a possible jail sentence of up to five years," reported Top Tech News.  Virginia, Arizona, and Kentucky already have adopted similar rules.

I am normally a huge believer in privacy rights.  So, I feel a twinge as I say that this is a good thing.  Predators on the net give the Internet a Wild West feel and make it dangerous.  Finding felons who pray on innocent people is wise.  In addition, the registry probably only makes the police job easier.  Aren’t email addresses registered anyway?  (Although, it is hard to know if an ISP really has the right name and location of an email address holder.)  So, I endorse the idea in this case.

But, I am troubled about where to draw the line.  Should we make it a law that any sex offender should register any name, code, or secret identity that he/she may have?  In effect, should we would make it a crime for a sex offender to disguise his/her identity in any way?  It is the logical extension.  Should there be a registry for such identifies?

By the same argument, why limit it to sex offenders?  Sex offenders have committed a serious crime.  What about murderers?  Should we extend the rules to any felon?  And, for how long?

I actually do think the registry is a good idea.  But where do we draw the line?

2 replies
  1. Michael R says:

    You bring up a good point. There are so many ambiguities here that I think law enforcement is actually just adding on other potential things to charge sex offenders with, rather than actually protect children in the first place. Technically, one could cite a sex offender if he’s filling out a service order, then given a tracking number for his order to use in later communications, or even a UPS delivery or something similar. He uses the tracking number. Later, his computer gets investigated, and since he didn’t register the tracking number (which is his “internet communication identifier” for that transaction), he can be arrested.

    If you truly want to make the Internet safe from sex offenders, though, then consider banning the Internet outright, like they are trying to do here in New Jersey:

    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/nj/20070522_Internet_ban_for_sex_offenders_advances.html

    Money paragraph:

    “Under the plan, convicted sex offenders would have to submit to periodic, unannounced examinations of their computer equipment, install equipment on their computer so its use could be monitored, and inform law-enforcement officials if they have access to a computer. Those caught using the Internet would face 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine.”

    Here is a PDF link to the proposal:

    http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/Bills/A4000/3905_R1.PDF

    Reply
  2. adam smith says:

    I support this only if the crime itself were internet -related, or if the crime was against children. I mean if some guy gets busted for hiring prostitutes, then it doesn’t seem fair. As it stands now we tell convicted felons that they have a record which will follow them, from which their sentence will never be paid. The are denied the right to vote in many states, some are barred from suing, most professional licenses are barred, as are careers in law-enforcement, fire rescue, EMS, nursing, etc. Most trade licenses are also out. Forget about being a barber, plumbing, auto repair, etc, and even licenses to peddle wares on the sidewalk are now being denied. Most employers won’t hire someone with a record, and welfare isn’t much of an option. The shelters are full, the work houses have no jobs, and now we are going to deny them the right to use computers. I have a better solution: why don’t we pick an island, I don’t know, maybe Australia, and send them all there, or better yet, execute anyone convicted of any crime (think Utopia). The burden we put on them is the burden we put on ourselves. How can a criminal not go back to a life of crime? It seems like it’s an endless cycle because society will never forgive any offense no matter how small. I think the registry is only a good idea for those already on the regular registry and hope it doesn’t become a broadsword.

    Reply

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