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Legislators look to crack down on sex offenders

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State legislators including Republican leader Tom Cross made the rounds in Will and DuPage counties, trying to drum up support for a package of proposed laws they say will keep the Internet safe for children. The laws would be among the toughest in the nation.

The so-called cornerstone of the legislation is a measure that would require Internet sites such as MySpace to obtain written parental permission before kids could post profiles. (How's that going to work?)

Another measure would ban sex offenders from using sites like MySpace and Facebook. You'd think this would already be a condition of parole, but the state attorney general found some 1,800 registered sex offenders using MySpace.

Another tricky proposal would require Web site operators to verify ages and personal information before profiles go up on the Internet. And adults who misrepresent their age to solicit juveniles would be subject to felony charges.

What do you think of all this? Can Illinois do this alone, or should it act with other states or seek federal legislation regarding Internet sites? How well do you think Internet sites are protecting children without legislative intervention? And why is it that for the last several legislative sessions Illinois lawmakers seem unable to approve critical budget and policy legislation, but sex offender crackdowns sail through so it looks like they're getting SOMETHING done?

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4 Comments

This is ridiculous. It does nothing but make online community sites jump through even more hoops to satisfy the desires of parents who couldn't be bothered to supervise their kids online. It is so easy to be completely anonymous online. Networks like Tor exist for noble purposes, safeguarding online privacy, allowing for the spread of information in oppressive countries, the government even uses Tor for surveillance... or anything else you don't want your parole officer finding out about.

Don't want to bother with reading a simple guide to install the software required to hop on Tor? Just drive around neighborhoods until you find an open wireless network which won't take more than 15 minutes (or use Naperville's free municipal WiFi!) and you're home free.

To be completely untraceable, do both. This legislation will do nothing but catch the absolute dumbest criminals.

What's the best way to protect your kids on the internet? Oh, I don't know, good parenting perhaps? ...But that takes effort, we'll just throw laws at the problem and hope it goes away.

This is what would be called political pandering, merely meaningless feel good legislation, like the Chicago ban on guns or proclaiming Naperville to be a Nuclear Free Zone. If it were just that easy.

This is nothing more than an ineffective false sense of 'security' that will provide nothing.

Anyone can easily get around and 'blocks' that go into place and the fact that the internet is just a connected set of networks and computers all owned by different people adds to the mix.

It all starts w/ the parents and teaching their kid right from wrong and moderating what THEIR OWN CHILD does.

I'm sure there's plenty of money to be made by 'security firms' selling measures, plans and software to attempt to look like they can help, but the bottom line is they will be ineffective without the parents taking corrective measures themselves. As long as that happens in the home, the rest is really unnecessary.

Banning sex offenders from Myspace is a good idea. The Internet is a privilege not a right and those who abuse it deserve to have their privileges taken away. I do not think the parental permissioin will work. What's to stop kids from making up names and ages? Then when that happens I don't see how that's the fault of Myspace. Really it's the responsibility of parents to know what their kids are doing online, even if it means installing tracking software so they can find out who they're talking to and what they're saying.

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This page contains a single entry by Naperville Sun editors published on February 12, 2008 1:06 AM.

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