Disconnecting Sex Offenders From Social Networks

Can a law keep creeps from peeking online?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Can a law keep creeps from peeking online?

    Who's looking at you online? What about your kids?

    There's really no way to tell but there is a pretty good chance some of those eyeballs are connected to a sex offender. But a bill making its way through the California Assembly seeks to cut off those connections.

    Assembly Bill 2208 would make it a crime for California's 63,000 registered sex offenders to use social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace.

    Much like the Megan's Law sex offender database aimed at keeping children safe, the social networking bill would depend on the sex offender honor system. They would have to register and police themselves. The proposal, introduced by Los Angeles Assemblywoman Norma Torres last month, is similar to legislation passed in New York and Illinois last year but it stops short of some requirements included in those states' bills.

    Violators would face a misdeamor charge, could be jailed for up to six months and face a fine of up to $1,000.

    San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris is sponsoring the bill and agrees that it's not a fail-safe measure. But she believes creating the law can help social networks become less attractive for sex offenders who are using the sites to lure victims.

    "In my experience, these types of predators are a slimy group and they don't want to go to jail," Harris told the Chronicle, "and what we're telling them is that if you go online and start chatting with my 12-year-old niece, you're going to jail."