It may surprise you but chatting with a child online is not illegal for a registered sex offender but that may not be the case in the future.
“It's a very tough law, it's a very tough sanction because it's a very serious crime,” says Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who traveled to Rochester Thursday to tout a new bill moving through the NYS legislature called the “E-STOP” bill.
The legislation, if passed, would create the country’s first ban on sex predators from socializing online with kids. The bill requires sex offenders to report all of their internet accounts with NYS authorities and if they fail to do so, it’s considered a crime.
“The person could be incarcerated again. You violate the condition, you could be incarcerated again,” says Cuomo, “we have cases in the office that you'd be amazed at how many of these contacts are from all over the country.”
“We're going to go one step further and tell the internet companies: here they are, take the steps to make sure that these people don't have contact with our children,” says Mike Green, Monroe County district attorney.
The e-STOP bill is being given bi-partisan support in the Monroe County region. Both democratic assemblyman Joe Morelle and republican senator Joe Robach are endorsing the bill. The legislation is something which also has been backed by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Rochester.
“It (information) is out there forever. There are a lot of kids who will very innocently post a picture of themselves on the internet only to find themselves being transmitted over and over and over again, sent to hundreds and thousands of different people and they lose control of it and it is gone,” says Ed Suk, executive director for NCMEC who believes the most important part of the e-STOP legislation is its accountability, “that to me is key, if it isn't a crime then it is hard to hold people accountable. If it is a crime, now you have some teeth in this law that holds sex offenders accountable.”
For parents who want to learn more about protecting their children on the internet, NCMEC recommends visiting the following website: www.netsmartz.org or call the National Center if you should want materials sent to you: