A new bill is being proposed in Texas in order to push state and federal efforts for child protective services online. According to ABC News, Texas’ Attorney General Greg Abbott, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, and U.S. Representative Lamar Smith have announced the SAFETY Act of 2009. The bill would enable further cooperation between the state and online destination sites for creating a safer environment for children on the web.
As the law currently stands, convicted sex offenders have to provide certain information about themselves, including their name and physical address. This information is made public, in a database that’s accessible by anyone. The proposed SAFETY Act of 2009 would up the ante, requiring convicted sex offenders t provide their email addresses, mobile telephone numbers, social networking aliases and other electronic information to the state’s Department of Public Safety. Unlike the information they already have to give to the state, the electronic information would no be available to the public. The data would be utilized by the state and online social networks like MySpace and Facebook to help screen new and existing users for cross-reference.
The announcement of the SAFETY Act of 2009 goes hand in hand with the related news of Facebook ridding its network of over 5,000 sex offenders, according to The Associated Press. Even though Facebook received a bit of flack after MySpace announced it had booted over 90,000 sex offenders and some of these criminals were found to have active accounts on Facebook, both social networks have insisted that they’re dedicated to helping state and federal authorities with the prevention of sex offenders’ presence on their networks.
Both Facebook and MySpace have cooperated with state and federal authorities a great deal in the past two years to work towards a safer environment for children, pre-teens and teenagers on their sites. The ongoing cooperation of these sites is evidence that a shared responsibility towards creating safer online environments is something tha can readily be achieved through the use of the same technology that powers social networks’ existence.
There’s no doubt that for every move authorities and social networks make, certain criminals and sex offenders will find loopholes or ways around pre-screening processes and the like. That’s why it’s also important for the rest of social networking users to remember the basic rules of engagement when connecting with each other online, and this includes parents making proper online behavior abundantly clear to their children, on behalf of their safety.