Washington (DC) – A new bill has been introduced to the House of Representatives and the Senate that will force convicted sex offenders to register their email and instant messaging addresses to a federal database. Social networking sites could then check the databases and either notify authorities or kick the offenders out. The bill was sponsored by Senators and Representatives from both parties and is endorsed by major social network sites like MySpace and Facebook.
Convicted sex offenders currently have to register physical information like their names, addresses and phone numbers to local and national registries. This bill, if it becomes law, would also force them to register their online information. Failure to do so could result in 10 years in prison. In addition, people who falsely represent their age with the intent to sexually abuse a child could get up to 20 years in prison.
The registration information would be kept in a private database managed by the federal government. Social networking sites could then cross-check their membership rolls with the database and weed out offenders.
Ohio Representatives Paul Gillmor and Steve Chabot authored the bill. The bill also has some famous co-sponsors including Senator Chuck Schumer from New York and John McCain from Arizona.