August 3, 2007 1:14 PM PDT

Democrats to push new Net sex-predator laws

WASHINGTON--Expect a new push in Congress this fall for laws aimed at keeping sexual predators off the likes of MySpace.com and elevating fines on Internet service providers that don't report child pornography.

That was the message delivered on Friday--which could be the politicians' last day in session before their August recess--by a handful of U.S. House Democrats, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Democratic Caucus leader Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.).

As technology advances and opens up new ways for predators to get to children, "you have to adapt and help parents be good parents," Emanuel said at a sparsely attended press conference in the Capitol building. That means it's necessary to pass a "comprehensive piece of legislation," he added, to deal with the perceived problem of sexual predators luring children through social-networking sites.

Conyers, for his part, said his committee plans to hold hearings beginning in September that examine "the use of the Internet to perpetrate or facilitate sex crimes." To him, that means sexual predators "infiltrating" chat rooms and social-networking sites to arrange meetings with minors for both consensual and forcible sexual encounters, as well as people who spread illegal child pornography online. He said he plans to invite Internet service providers and representatives from social-networking sites to participate.

The renewed calls for action on Friday further negate any possibility that the push for legislation designed to rein in social-networking sites last year was just a fleeting preoccupation of a Republican-controlled Congress in the lead-up to critical elections.

Numerous attempts to pass bills requiring everything from restricting access to social-networking sites on school and library computers to labeling Web sites containing "sexually explicit" content may have failed to go anywhere then. But some of the same proposals have nevertheless returned, albeit only to be ignored so far.

Another related push surrounds data retention, which would have required Internet service providers to retain records about their subscribers for a certain period of time for law enforcement access. It also appears to be less of a priority this year, though a Senate bill proposed earlier on Friday calls for a working group to study the issue.

Focusing on three major efforts
On Friday, the Democrats focused their attention on three major efforts, though they suggested they're also open to considering other ideas as well.

The proposal that arguably garnered the most attention was a bill introduced by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (R-N.D.), known as the KIDS Act, which would require convicted sex offenders to supply their online identifiers, such as e-mail addresses and instant-messaging usernames, to a federal database that could then be accessed by social-networking sites. Although such sites would not be legally obligated to check their user base against the database, they would be encouraged to request a list of those names from the U.S. Department of Justice.

MySpace is an enthusiastic supporter of that bill.

The penalties for failing to comply would lie with the sex offenders, who could be fined or imprisoned for up to a decade if they fail to register their online aliases. The bill would also create a new crime, subjecting any adult to up to 20 years in prison for knowingly misrepresenting his or her age "to engage in criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, or to facilitate or attempt such conduct."

"No community is safe from the dangers posed by the Internet," said Pomeroy, who deemed his proposal, which currently has 62 co-sponsors, a "practical solution" to those perceived threats. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has sponsored the bill's counterpart in the Senate.

Another proposal, advocated by co-sponsor Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) on Friday, would triple the penalties for Internet service providers that fail to report child pornography on their servers, heightening those penalties to up to $150,000 for the first offense and up to $300,000 for subsequent failures. The bill also would allow courts to order the use of "electronic monitoring technology" to track a convicted sex offender's Internet activities.

A similar version sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is pending in the Senate. Unlike a draft version circulated in December, it does not appear to expand the reporting requirements to additional Web site operators.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is also preparing to introduce a bill that attempts to raise the profile of Internet sex crimes against children within the Department of Justice, including additional funding and the setup of a new office dedicated to investigating online child exploitation. A similar bill has already been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

A spokesman for Wasserman Schultz said her version will likely be introduced sometime after the summer recess because the congresswoman first wants to line up a long list of supporters in an attempt to boost its chances for passage.

Perhaps in an effort not to be upstaged by their House colleagues, a handful of senators from both parties on Friday also introduced a new bill framed as an attempt at protecting children on the Internet. Like Lampson's effort, it would triple the penalties for failure to report child pornography and would establish a working group to explore "online safety and technology" practices.

In a similar vein, the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday threw its support behind a bill called the Child Safe Viewing Act, sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). That measure instructs federal regulators to consider making rules that encourage or require "advanced blocking technologies"--a "super V-chip," some observers have taken to calling it--capable of filtering "indecent and objectionable programming" in myriad platforms, ranging from TV sets to cable boxes to wireless devices.

"It's an uphill battle for parents trying to protect their kids from viewing inappropriate programming," Pryor said in a statement. "I believe there is a whole new generation of technology that can provide an additional layer of help for these parents."

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24 comments

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If these people are so dangerous
then why are they letting them out of prison with these overly elaborate supervised release programs?
This seems like pandering to an issue that has been raised to the level hysteria by the fear mongering likes of Nancy Grace and John Walsh.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
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Pedosexuals are not dangerous
Speaking as a pedosexual myself (who has never been to prison), most of us are not dangerous. Sure, we want to make love with young children, but that does not make us the child grabbing, raping monsters that the news media makes us out to be.

Personally, I would NEVER forcibly rape a little girl, but were she to ask me to make love with her or I ask her and got her permission...... hell yeah, I would do it and did when I was 8-12, admittedly.

It's time to realize that with proper knowledge, children from the age of 2 and sometimes less are quite capable of consenting to sexual actions if the adults or children ask for the sexual encounters in front of others.

If they want to protect children, legalize pedosexuality, make it illegal for parents to interfere in their children's sexual lives absent a KNOWN danger to their children (the guy was convicted of forcible rape, and even then, after the laws were changed), and let children do what they NATURALLY want to do!

Personally, I was having sexual relationships with other children from when I was 3 and with adults from 7. Was I 'abused'? Hell no, because the adults and children in question always asked me first before we did anything sexual together, and if I said I didn't want to, they respected that decision.
Now, you might say "You met one of the good pedophiles!" Wasn't one. It was more like 200 of them, from late teens to forty years old.
Posted by Leria (585 comments )
Link Flag
new law for preditors
Its like draining the swamp when your ass deep in alligators. The law should be aimed at the parents.
They need to supervise their offsprings in place of allowing a machine supervise and entertain their little pain in the arce. Most of them are not the poor little innocent child that the law trys to make out. They conduct themselves like little street tramps. Just read their comments online. They propagate their problems then cry wolf if some pervert bits. Get the parents to do their job.
Posted by JamesFeinstein (5 comments )
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Wow, I need my BS waders
This has to be -the- most asinine comment ever.

Your entire rant is predicated on a mistake.
Yeah, Parents do what they can to protect and shield their kids.
The problem is, if a kid is going to do something, no force in the world short of death will stop them.
Also, explain to me how a parent is going to monitor -every- -little- -move- their kids make ?
It's easy to say "They need to supervise their offsprings in place of allowing a machine supervise and entertain their little pain in the arce", but you don't bother to say -how- they should go about it. So where is your solution ?
Are parents to learn how to function without sleeping ? force their kids to wear a camera every time they leave the house OR leave their parents sight (even in the house)?
Should a kids time on the net be limited ? yes
but you still have to be reasonable and to paint ALL kids with the same broad strokes that you've used is patently unfair.

On top of which, this still doesn't mitigate -our- responsibility as law abiding adult net users.

Yeah, I've seen quite a bit of what you speak of, and yes it's shameful, but that doesn't mean these scumbags should have Carte Blanche to prey upon these stupid little girls.
And the fact that your words do more to defend the pedophiles than those who would stop them, disturbs me greatly.

When we see these little girls doing this kind of crap, it's up to us to report it and help put a crimp in what pedophiles use to hunt down their targets.

You strike me as one who, while having no kids of your own, feels qualified in telling parents how to raise them in spite of any real experience of your own. (before you get your tail in a knot and deny this I say: proof or your words are false).

So until you have kids of your own, leave the pontificating to one more experienced.
Posted by ShadowGryphon (52 comments )
Link Flag
When did I sign up to be a COP?
This seems to be a common theory. The police haven't been able to enforce the laws they have--for whatever reason--so now they want us to do their job for them.

They are attempting to force all of us to watch and report on the activities of our neighbors -- terrorists, drug dealers, pedophiles, and God knows who else. This continues to divide our communities, pits neighbor against neighbor, and provides neighborhoods in which criminals are free to conduct their business.

The more we suspect our neighbors, as our government encourages us to do, the more our communities are divided. You want me to keep records so you can prosecute? What kind of logic is that?
Posted by Pete Bardo (687 comments )
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Perhaps I missed it....
But where, in this article, does it even come close to implying what you've said?

For that matter, do you honestly think that you're exempt from helping to protect kids online ?

Sorry man, we are just as responsible for helping to put an end to child predation as the cops are,perhaps more so.

Our relative anonymity online does not mean we can turn a blind eye to someone doing that which endangers us all.

Unless -you- live in New York, then I'm not surprised by your comments, not helping out or getting involved seems to be the law of the land there.

And just so you know, part of what helps Law enforcement out is citizens willing to provide much needed info to help combat crimes of this nature.
But I guess you don't understand that, do you?
Posted by ShadowGryphon (52 comments )
Link Flag
More Democrat cheerleading by CNet
If these things were proposed by Republicans, this article would have been written in a totally different way.

None of the proposals are going to work - and the Democrats (and CNet) know it - it's just a ruse to try to make them look "tough".
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
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Yep
Democrats are trying to act tough just like you stated. They want to win the big election in 2008 so they can keep their control in the House & Senate as well as win control of the White House. Then and only then will they be happy and content. Until then, expect more whining and attacks on your fellow Republicans in office, same old playbook, same old BS!
Posted by jpsimon78 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Wont SOMEBODY think of the CHILDREN..?
Someone had to say it...

This is just the same old crap... politics and, ever-expanding "Government databases". It wont stop anything... But it will, undoubtedly, aid political-careers and continue the obscene expansion Government-power.

Meanwhile...

...the American people still overwhelmingly oppose the "War in Iraq"... But, the Congress, specifically elected to put a stop to it, is completely incapable of actually standing-up to the President.

...Big-Business continues to get everything it wants... no matter who gets hurt.

...The oil-companies continue to make the highest-profits, of any corporations in American history... and, all the while, we keep paying the highest prices for gasoline in our history.

...bridges, that have been known to be unsafe for years, are falling-down... literally killing people.

...Federal, political and business, criminals are still completely unpunished and apparently, really are, entirely above the law.

...Americans pay the highest prices for healthcare, in the world, and yet... we are NOT in the top five... top-ten... or, even, the top-15... for actual quality of medical-care (we are actually somewhere around 28th).

...And, the desiccating-carcass of the United States Constitution, continues to be sh*t upon... almost daily.

...Our emails are read... our phones are tapped... alleged mere-suspects are tortured... virtually everything we do is video-taped... the police can detain, demand-ID, search, and record, everything we do... just in case.

But, at least, we keep getting to hear the phrase: "...give law-enforcement the tools they, so desperately, need"..? In fact, its uttered so often, these days, I think that its should simply be tattooed on everyones foreheads... lest we ever forget, our, "priorities" as "free-Americans".
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
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Pedosexuals are used as scapegoats/shadowmen
Pedosexuals are being used as scapegoats and shadowmen by the government to make people accede to illegal and overreaching laws.

Frankly, were pedosexuality and making love with children legal..... we would have none of the child rapes and murders that are going on right now, or even less of a number than we have right now (200 a year in the whole US!).
Posted by Leria (585 comments )
Link Flag
Not even the half of it
All true, and all just the tip of the iceberg. Right now the American people are sleepwalking their way into a totalitarian state.

Had the Framers foreseen this, they would certainly have added an amendment against it.
Posted by perfectblue97 (326 comments )
Link Flag
Excellent Retort! What about WMDs.
So true... so true...

Now, while I do support the war in Iraq, I completely agree with everything you have posted. Every year, there is just another political cry that our hands are tied and "the bad people" are out to get you or your children.

Hey, all the government needs to do is classify child predators as WMDs and they already have all the authority to record and track everything everyone does "just in case".

Where will this all end. Don't you wish we had a reboot option with government and big business where we could just wipe everything clean and start fresh.
Posted by philnye (19 comments )
Link Flag
Amen brother
couldn't agree more. Anyone ever done a search about recidivism of Sex offenders? U should, it ranges from 3% for treated offenders in some programs to around 13% for untreated. Wow, that means most never re-offend. The threat to worry about are those not caught. And most of those are people we know around us. The Internet predators are such a small fraction. Now, not to minimize the threat, anyone hurting a child needs to be dealt with. Education and a parents interaction with kids are the best ways to prevent all of this. Open, honest communication is the number one key to all this. predators hide in the shadows and live in secrecy. I know what I write about since every member of my family has been touched by this sickness as offender or victim. Sex Offense is 95% of the time about Power and Control over their victims, the same as politicians. The other 5% are just plain sick in the head and will likely never change and will try to "make love" to children. Makes my stomach hurt just thinking about that. Hope this helps some
Posted by LeroytheDawg (1 comment )
Link Flag
The Perceived problem IS the PROBLEM!
>>>That means it's necessary to pass a "comprehensive piece of legislation," he added, to deal with the perceived problem of sexual predators luring children through social-networking sites.<<<

If they passed at law to stop the ACTUAL problem rather than just the perceived problem... it would be much better, but they're only interested in going after the perceived problem.

Walt
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There is no problem
There is really no problem here. What they need to do is realize that pedosexuality is a NORMAL sexual preference/orientation, and start LEGALIZING it.

Personally, I loved being 'sexually abused' and if a cop came up to me and told me "You were 'victimized'!"..... he would and has gotten a five finger fist salute to the face!

There is no such thing as child sexual 'abuse', no such thing as 'statutory rape', period and done with!

I think the children who are victimized by the courts and who have problems ranging from MPD (I haven't seen ONE non-court related case of MPD in a person who was 'sexually abused' ever, and I work for a lawyer who specializes in child sexual abuse cases) to extreme depression to physical wounds from overzealous parents who beat their children when they refuse to report the person in question to the police for 'abusing' them.
I saw that a lot as a social worker before I was a paralegal, and I absolutely REFUSED to file a case report if I saw any bruises or injuries on the child that the child admitted to me were caused by their parents.
I had the support of the entire agency in that as well.
Posted by Leria (585 comments )
Link Flag
Political and Corporate Fear Mongering
"MySpace is an enthusiastic supporter of that bill." MySpace went to McCain, gave him advance notice of the proposed MySpace Impact political channel in which he could solicit fundraising, and then helped draft the legislation. This began when General Counsel of Fox Interactive Media, Michael Angus, blamed registered sex offenders for the numerous sexual assaults on MySpace minors during a Congressional Oversight hearing on June 28, 2006. A calculated response designed to divert attention away from the real issues involving the design of MySpace which allowed minors to access and be exposed to pornography and adults seeking sex. Murdoch was seeking to protect his business interests, and it appears Congress has sided with the media giant who will soon be in charge of the Wall Street Journal, in expectation of...
Maintaining a government database of RSOs email and Internet identifiers, to block individuals from engaging in free speech, when only 10% of RSOs are the problem, is not a "practical solution" to the predator problem.

Be wary any time a Congressman says, "comprehensive piece of legislation". Not gaining ground with the individual bills, look for these proposals to be combined to the extent voting againt the measure would be seen as voting against child safety. Last years elections only changed the arrangement of the chairs.
Posted by dayebreak (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Total Madness
This is total madness and its main effect will simply be to give neo-cons one more way to panic us into falsely believing that we're all in danger, when we are not.

Internet predators could be stopped in their tracks by a single well executed education campaign giving parents and children meaningful advice on how to stay safe online. Unfortunately we simply have more and more poorly thought out schemes and scare stories.
Posted by perfectblue97 (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn't a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet suburbs of Lincoln, Rhode Island.

I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. He was arrested and indicted but never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn?t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn?t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

Over the past 34 years, I?ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams?nightmares actually?dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn?t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don?t watch America?s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn?t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he?d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

Out of fear, shame and guilt, I?ve been silent for over three decades, not sharing with anyone the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn't my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It?s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It?s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they?re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at www.Amazon.com

For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.

For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at www.meninmytown.wordpress.com
Posted by MenInMyTown (16 comments )
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