2008-10-15 / Political Page

Law Protecting Kids From Online Predators Passes Congress

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Weiner is a cosponsor of the KIDS legislaion.  Weiner is a cosponsor of the KIDS legislaion. Sex offenders will be required to register their online identifiers, such as e-mail names, and stay off social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook under the KIDS bill recently passed by Congress.

Congressmember Anthony Weiner, a cosponsor of the legislation, said, under the bill, Keep the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS), "Child predators will no longer be able to hide behind computer screens and online aliases."

The bill received an immediate endorsement by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, author of the E-STOP, bill which set the pattern for the KIDS legislation.

"The passage by Congress of the KIDS Act of 2008 is another important step in protecting our children online," Cuomo said. "I am proud that New York state has once again set the example for the nation by enacting ESTOP."

Cuomo pointed out that E-STOP was the first law of its kind in the country prohibiting dangerous convicted sex offenders from using the Internet to access social networking Web sites to communicate with minors. It also requires convicted sex offenders to submit any Internet identifiers to law enforcement, and allows Web sites to use the information for the purpose of prescreening or removing sex offenders from their services."

Cuomo congratulated Congress for "this vital step in protecting our children" and singled out U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D- New York) for getting the bill passed in the Senate and making it the law throughout the U.S.

Weiner (D- Queens/Brooklyn) explained that the KIDS bill cracks down on online predators by:

•Requiring sex offenders to register their online identifiers, such as e-mail and instant messaging addresses with the National Sex Offender Registry.

•Keeps sex offenders off social networking sites by requiring the U.S. Attorney General to share the online identities of sex offenders with the Web site.

•Boosting penalties for sexual predators who lie about their age with the intent of sexual contact with a child.

Weiner, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that a recent study by the University of New Hampshire found that one in seven children receive unwanted sexual solicitations online. He said approximately 90 percent of teenagers use the Internet every day.

In January 2007, Weiner said, he released a report showing that more than 85 percent of the registered sex offenders in New York City live less than five blocks from schools, and 670 sex offenders live within just two blocks. Some offenders are even closer, he noted, permanently residing less than 500 feet away from unwitting parents, educators and children.

Weiner stated, that requiring only a sex offender's physical address ignores the growing role of the Internet as a tool for child predators. This legislation will help us track offenders and arm parents with tools to protect their children from online sex offenders."

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