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Sex Offenders to Register Emails in Virginia 331

Isaac Bowman writes "The Washington Post is reporting that Virgina has a proposed law that would require sex offenders to register their email and IM screen names in an attempt to monitor and control their presence on social networking sites like MySpace."
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Sex Offenders to Register Emails in Virginia

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  • Virgina (Score:5, Funny)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:26AM (#17205400)
    " good a place as any to start", she said.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Bazman ( 4849 )
      And British sex offenders will have to register in Penistone. And Cockermouth.

      Yes, they are real places.
  • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rumplet ( 1034332 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:27AM (#17205404) Homepage
    because registering a new email address and IM account is so hard. Better still, get an .i2p email address.
    • because registering a new email address and IM account is so hard.
      But think about the penalty if caught or ratted out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        ANd the odds of that occuring? 100K:1?
        • ANd the odds of that occuring? 100K:1?
          In that case, why register any address at all?

          The thing is, if you've got an address, it is to communicate with people. Some of which will be trustworthy, and some of which won't. Just imagine a quarrel about sth, a desire of revenge, and sb will rat the offender out. I'd say the probability of that happening is much larger than 100K to 1.

          • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
            The thing is, if you've got an address, it is to communicate with people. Some of which will be trustworthy, and some of which won't. Just imagine a quarrel about sth, a desire of revenge, and sb will rat the offender out. I'd say the probability of that happening is much larger than 100K to 1.

            So you use one address for stalking on MySpace, another, registered, one for your buddies/enemies, etc.

        • Well, two things going on here:

          1. They're ultimately looking for physical interaction. That's traceable.
          2. They're not very good -- they've already been caught before.
          3. They're not always very smart -- they may not think of multiple IDs.

          Hopefully that helps.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
            3. They're not always very smart -- they may not think of multiple IDs.

            When they find their registered address is blocked from MySpace, how long will it take even a not-very-smart pervert to work out he should get another one? All it's done is forced all the perverts to cover their tracks BEFORE they've done anything. About as useful as the No-Fly list. As if Osama bin Laden would book a ticket under his own name. But every poor guy called Mohammed is put through the wringer.

            • Security Theater. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <> on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @09:58AM (#17206966) Homepage Journal
              About as useful as the No-Fly list.

              Yep ... it's exactly as useful as the No-Fly List. Which does its job admirably.

              It's just that its job isn't what you think it is. The No-Fly List doesn't really have anything to do with keeping terrorists off of planes, because as you pointed out, even the most retarded Al Qaeda operative is probably going to think of using a false name. What it does do, is create a (arguably false) sense of security in the general populace, and make them think that their government is "doing something." This is its function, its raison d'être, just like most of the other post-9/11 government "security" measures.

              This registry is exactly the same thing. Nobody in their right mind can possibly believe that it's actually going to do anything to save children; it's a trivial requirement, one that if you're already OK with doing something illegal (like propositioning children), you're not going to have any trouble avoiding. But it's going to make a nice talking point for a few politicos, and help to create that 'warm, fuzzy feeling' in the hearts of the voters who are too stupid to see through it -- which is basically most of them, I've come to believe.

              When you see a government program that's failing horribly but yet still allowed to continue year after year, chances are it's not really failing; it's doing exactly what somebody wants it to do.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Politburo ( 640618 )
                even the most retarded Al Qaeda operative is probably going to think of using a false name.

                Actually some 9/11 attackers were on FBI watch lists and used the names on the watch list to buy tickets. However they were not on the "no fly list" which was grossly expanded after 9/11.
                • Re:Security Theater. (Score:4, Informative)

                  by 2short ( 466733 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @12:35PM (#17209500)
                  The list was dramatically expanded after 9/11, as agencies rushed to put all sorts of people on it. If it was at all useful before that, it sure isn't now.

                  14 of the 9/11 hijackers were added to the list, along with many other people known to be dead. But they didn't add anyone they suspected of being a active terrorist agents; because the names of those people are secrect, and the list is too widely disseminated to allow that.

                  The no-fly list wastes a lot of money to make trouble for people who happen to have the same name as someone on it. It won't stop any terrorists because while it's trivial to circumvent, they wouldn't have to because their names aren't on it.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Sancho ( 17056 )
                Actually, the registry does a lot more than that.

                The registry allows sex offenders to be treated as outcasts for the rest of their lives. You see, people on the registry have to notify people--mostly local schools and other organizations that deal with children heavily--that they are moving in. Those organizations alert the neighborhoods, and everyone knows there's a sex offender nearby. Even if some people manage to miss the notifications, they can use free and easy online lookup services to find sex of
      • Now, why would someone with a criminal record "forget" to register his address/number? Think about the penalty of THAT.

        Besides, if he's at least half way smart, it is fairly impossible to trace. Well, at least 'til he makes contact in RL and then it's too late anyway in case he commits another crime. So the whole thing is pointless.

        At least against the alleged problem.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Brianech ( 791070 )
      If you can't trust a registered sex offender then who can you trust? The honor system has no flaws!
    • because registering a new email address and IM account is so hard. Better still, get an .i2p email address.

      But like Capone with tax evasion, catching a pedophile using an unregistered email address would then be a chargeable offense. Probably easier than proving intent of kidfuckery.

      • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @09:48AM (#17206870) Journal
        Probably easier than proving intent of kidfuckery.

        Good thing everyone on the sex offender list participates in kidfuckery, and not getting drunk and pissing in a bush or mooning your principal, or various other "sexual" offenses.
  • lol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quarrel ( 194077 )
    'cause, like, that'd work.
  • by timerider ( 14785 )
    ...their gmail account and icq uin with the state, and then use their yahoo email and yahoo messenger for "other" things?
    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )
      They could. But that would be wrong.
      • They could use "secret" accounts, and perhaps "social networking" (via log trawling) is the "bigger picture" the authorities are looking at. I have no sympathy for rock spiders but I belive they are "criminally insane". If they are a danger to the public what are they doing roaming around anyway? If they are not a danger and have done their time they should be free from government harrasment.

        Of course in the real world you have to trust the people who get to declare someone else as "dangerous". Give them
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They could. But that would be wrong.

        Yes, and so was whatever crime they commited that made them a sex offender. Those that will try to do it again are the ones least likely to comply with the law in full. All this will do is help ostracize the ones trying to do things right from now on.

        Ars Technica had an article [] about this also, here's a quote from it:

        While we understand his concern, Ars has received e-mails from sex offenders who feel completely rejected from society by such restrictions, especia

  • Yes, that is right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by James_Duncan8181 ( 588316 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:30AM (#17205424) Homepage
    There is such a large difficulty in getting new email addresses, nobody could concieve of a situation where not all would be registered! All this does is create yet another charge to lay on someone you want to imprison. The problem with this is that if they are grooming children/formenting terrah on yr kids/whatever, you already have appropriate charges. If they are not, it isn't an issue.
  • I know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thrill12 ( 711899 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:30AM (#17205430) Journal
    ...more than half the slashdot-population can find themself in the name "Virgina" (even when it's mentioned twice in the post), but I sincerely request the editors lay down their powdery-pipes and at least provide the decency to call the region "Virginia".

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:32AM (#17205436) Journal
    In Capitalism West sex offenders must register emails. In Soviet Union use of email registers you!
  • God damnit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazntwich ( 208070 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:35AM (#17205462)
    Our lawmakers are idiots.

    Either the sex offender has served his time, or he hasn't. If you're worried about their recidivism rate, UP THE TIME SPENT OUT OF SOCIETY, DO NOT SEND THEM BACK OUT THERE IF WE'RE SO SURE THEY'RE JUST GOING TO REPEAT OFFEND.

    Seems simple, so why do these guys make it so complex?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by somersault ( 912633 )
      You can't send spam to inmates

      Seems to me if they want to do something like this seriously, that everyone should be assigned an email address at birth *shrug*
      • that would be simple to implement now. Everyone has a social security number don't they? So you generate the required amount, link them to social security numbers and hand them out.

        This would also require mandatory net access for every citizen though, since you could not deny people access to a government/state issued email address.
        • Not really - if someone doesn't want an email address, they don't *have* to have it. I like the idea for requiring proper ID to register for an email address. I know a lot of people here will hate Big Brother type plans like that though. I naturally don't like the idea of regulation in this way, but when thinking about it, I have nothing to hide in my email usage, so why does it matter? If it meant that they also redesigned the way email works, so that it's more secure, spammers can be tracked, etc, then I'
          • there's always pgp, they'd have a hard time getting rid of that, but they could require decryption on request.
    • Re:God damnit. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfreak&eircom,net> on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:01AM (#17205612) Homepage Journal
      Seems simple, so why do these guys make it so complex?
      Because in our society once you have served your time in prison you are deemed to have paid for your crimes.
      • Really? Could've fooled me...

        So there are no sites that let you track if some former criminal lives in your neighborhood?
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by Duds ( 100634 ) *
        Except if you have to register your prescence and apparently your email that's simply not true.

        Either let them actually go free or keep them in.
      • Paid in full? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AlpineR ( 32307 ) <> on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:55AM (#17205906) Homepage

        Because in our society once you have served your time in prison you are deemed to have paid for your crimes.

        I hope you are being sarcastic. If our society deemed that serving prison time paid for crimes, then nobody would ever be asked "Have you ever committed a crime?" on job applications and no ex-con would have to register for previous crimes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Government only has the power to make sure it protects your civil rights. They have no authority to dictate the same between private citizens.
    • Seems like a good point. Why release someone if you're almost sure that he'll repeat his crime (then again, I'd hate to be locked up for the rest of my life because some woman claims that I raped her)?
    • Re:God damnit. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dwandy ( 907337 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @08:07AM (#17206214) Homepage Journal
      well ... perhaps because there is no coorelation between jail-time and not breaking the law ...errm, other than (I guess) not ever letting someone back out.

      The simple fact is that if locking people into a cage for a specified term were actually a deterrent then the US would have the lowest crime of any country anywhere (it is my understanding that the US has more %age of pop'n locked up than anyone else). Since crime in the US continues to be a terrible problem, perhaps it's time we began to look at alternates, like real rehabilitaion, meeting the victims, performing real restitution etc.

      Now before everyone freaks out, yes, there are still some that will need to be locked-up, but I'd suggest that in a healthy society that they are the exception. Let's face it: we're social creatures, and anyone of us that is anti-social is 'abnormal' and needs help and needs to be brought back into society to allow them to contribute.

      Locking criminals all together is just a way to ensure that they learn from one-another and socialise with other criminals making them even more anti-social relative to the rest of us...

  • Even if there were a way to ensure that all sex offender's screen names were recorded, this would only apply to people on the sex offenders' register, and doesn't account for the numbers of people allowed access to these sites who haven't been, and possibly won't be, caught.
  • Grand standing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fengpost ( 907072 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:40AM (#17205484)
    This sounds like some grand standing of a politician passing useless law to "protect kids". Anyone with a passing knowledge of the internet knows this is useless.

    Not only anyone can get any screen name and email address anyway they want it. Next thing you know, people will be setting up the "virtual neighborhood" off shore.

    This is one of those feel good law with some truthiness in mix!
  • ...of places where politicians have no clue about computing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )
      Why make it so hard?

      Just paint the whole world map and wait for a sane law to appear and cross that country out. It's less work that way 'round.
  • myspace innovation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:43AM (#17205498)
    officials would turn them over to MySpace. The company, using new software, would then block anyone using that e-mail address from entering the site ...

    They mean new software like:

    if (user == sex-offender)
    then (drop)
    else (proceed)

    Won't they just, er, get another account? It's like CAN-SPAM deja vu. Must be election time.
  • Comments (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @05:49AM (#17205540)
    My understanding is that sex offenders on social networking sites isn't a big issue compared to sex offenses that never involved the Internet in the first place.

    How is a sex offender defined? I'm thinking there could be a whole range of sex offenses, from minor infractions to major ones.

    If anything, if someone commits a major sex offense, then the judge in his or her right mind should consider removing Internet privledges. Wouldn't that stop the potential of the sex offender luring any more persons?
    • Re:Comments (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Skrynesaver ( 994435 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:18AM (#17205716) Homepage
      To the best of my knowledge a far greater proportion of child sex abuse involves family members, individuals abusing positions of trust etc... Perhaps the solution is to outlaw gaurdianship of children, lock 'em all into a "safe" cage until they're 16, there may be a feral society problem, however if we had televisions providing non-stop "informative" programming they'd learn stuff I'm sure.

      The furore over internet child abuse is great for headline writers, the combination of two topics which catch peoples attention and of course legislators do love their headlines. I'm surprised we don't see more of this kind of cross-topic headline grabbing. Legislation to outlaw the use of

      • iPods to smuggle polonium
      • Segways by terrorists
      • ..
      Oh maybe the headline writers didn't take best advantage of the oppertunity presented by the recent "No luxury goods for short fat dictators" legislation
    • Re:Comments (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredsh o m> on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @07:04AM (#17205940) Homepage
      How is a sex offender defined?
      Someone who buys (or is it uses ?) a sex toy in Texas ?
      Someone who has extra marital sex ?
      Someone who has "sex not for the sole purpose of reproduction" ?

      You can define that in a lot of ways...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bogjobber ( 880402 )
      A friend of mine mooned somebody from one of my other friends' car when we were in high school. A police officer happened to see this and arrested my friend for indecent exposure. The judge let him off easy, but he was told that it was possible he could've been forced to register as a sex offender.
  • What is to stop email harvesters from grabbing emails of these people and spamming them with promises of kiddie porn? The last thing we want is to tempt people who are trying to get back on the right track.
    • Who would be to blame then? The Sex offender or the company filling their mailboxes full of kiddy porn to increase their urge and then they go out and commit an offense again?
    • The best thing that ever happened for pedophiles. No longer to the have to use strange handshakes and special winking patterns to find other pedos to play with, all they have to do now is look them up.

  • What were they thinking?! Didn't they see what the superhuman registration act did to the Fantastic Four?

    *sigh* This will all end in tears...
  • by Caspian ( 99221 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:00AM (#17205610)
    As a reminder, there are plenty of jurisdictions in which urinating in a back alley when no public toilet is available constitutes a "sex offense", and sufficies to have one placed on "sex offender" lists.

    Furthermore, making out in a car in a quasi-public place can likewise be considered a "sex offense", if I'm not mistaken, though in practice, the cops tend to crack down only on gay couples doing this. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Sex offenders just ain't what they used to be.
  • Tacitus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kahei ( 466208 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:04AM (#17205626) Homepage

    The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.

  • > The Washington Post is reporting that Virgina has a proposed law

    No, it doesn't say that at all. RTFA editors. It clearly says Virginia.

    I can't work out if both the submittor and the editors are blind, or if that's supposed to be some extremely non-funny joke. How can you make the same typo twice? I guess I've missed something.
  • by oman_ ( 147713 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:16AM (#17205694) Homepage
  • Devil's advocate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:17AM (#17205710) Journal
    This is basically as I've said elsewhere...

    I'm not a sex offender and don't want to support those in particular, but juridically, I think these questions still need to be asked:

    - Why only sex offenders? Are other criminals not as dangerous? Do these not use e-mail?
    - What happened to jail penalties clearing them of their crime after it's over? Or do I misunderstand part of their intent?
    - How is this legislation going to be enforced? Will a sex offender willing to abuse kids be willing to register the mail address used for this?
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:32AM (#17205788)
      1) Because it's easy to push a law against sex offenders even after they allegedly "paid" for their crimes. With every other criminal, you could argue that they "paid" and that they should be left alone. With sex offenders, a simple "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" silences every opposition. Give it time, later the others are added when we got used to it.

      2) No. The legal system takes a sharp turn to revenge, not reintegration. Actually it's been doing that for quite a while now, I'm not even sure if it was even ever any other way.

      3) Not at all. But the idea seems to be that, when you have some case and someone is a suspect, you check his email activity and if he dares to have an account that's not registered you can already throw him back into jail and seize his equipment.
  • Cops and Lawyers... (Score:3, Informative)

    by robcfg ( 1005359 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:22AM (#17205736)
    ...cannot protect your children because they're too far away from them plus I think you don't want an agent in your home watching what your kids do. Protecting children is parents' responsability. they should teach them properly so the chances of getting offended or getting into unadequate web sites will be drastically reduced. No cop and no lawyer can make the parent's job.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:24AM (#17205742)
    First of all, there will be two kinds of former criminals: Those that really try to reintegrate into society and those that don't give a rat's ass and work harder to avoid getting caught.

    The latter will simply register some waste-spam addy, get a new freemail addy and go hunting again.

    The former will register their mail addresses. Now, let me predict the next step. The next step would be to make those mail addresses public so "you can see if your kids are mailing to a bad man", maybe including a tool for the really dumb parents who can't figure even that out.

    First of all, those registered addresses will drown in spam, because a legit mail address is gold for a spammer. Second, they will drown in hate mail from overzealous self appointed protectors of innocence and other bullcrap. I bet my rear that there will, no week after that list goes public, be a mailing list, so you can reach all of them at once. The net effect of this is either that they get a new mail address they can use (and don't register it), or they turn towards a "society hates me so I hate it too, to hell with it!" stance.

    In either case, all you get is that those people go further underground and get more careful, and are thus harder to track and catch.

    Great job. Really, I feel a damn lot safer now.
  • If someone really wants to get on MySpace, it won't be any problem at all to make a Yahoo address and get around the system. As always, this contradicts with my opinion on how sex offenders should be handled. The way I see it, if the offender doesn't pose a significant risk of repeating the offense, leave him alone once he has served his time. If he does pose a significant risk of repeating his offense, either leave him in jail or, at the very least, put him in an environment similar to a group home where h
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zoftie ( 195518 )
      In religious freakout society, sex is taboo (still), so goes overreaction about it. Contrived motions to stop something from happening, usually cause greater harm as a whole, then positively contributing something positive to the society. IMO.
  • by TorKlingberg ( 599697 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @06:42AM (#17205832)
    If I was a viagra spammer, I'd love to get a copy of that list.
  • on the black market for Gmail adresses.
  • The purpose might not to be prevent specific email addresses and nicks to access the websites, since they can be easily circumvented by just getting another email address.

    Instead, the purpose could (or should) be to deter the use of the services in wrong ways. If a sex offender is caught (search warrant, data traffic logging or whatever) to be using an unregistered ID, severe penalties would apply.

    In reality the traffic will not get logged.

    In reality sex offenders' drive will make them repeat their offences
  • Basically, the law is bullshit for prevention, and what ever mouth breather they have as a consultant to this has to know it. There's no real way to prevent people from registering a bullshit email address or using multiple addresses. So it won't prevent a damn thing and it won't help them catch anyone. So what good is this law? Well, the one thing I can think of is that when, by other means, the police catch a sex offender re-offending, showing that they were using a different address than the one they
  • Bad, bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsho[ ] ['d.c' in gap]> on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @08:37AM (#17206368)
    This is an ill-thought-through measure designed only to court acceptance from the public. Now that it's no longer politically acceptable to go after witches, blacks, jews or gypsies, sexual offenders are the current untermenschen -- somebody to whom everybody else can feel superior; and against whom no measure is unjustifiable, irrespective of whether or not it would ever be workable in practice and/or the extent of collateral damage it would create.

    Have you ever received junk mail addressed to a former occupant of your home?

    Have you ever been refused credit because of a bad debt run up by a former occupant of your home?

    I can answer yes to both questions. I've even received late-night faxes from abroad on my voice line, because my phone number used to be a fax number (the telco had run out of never-before-used numbers and so had to give me a recycled one; it had been out of service for over a year, but that didn't help against some overseas scumsucker with an out-of-date phone book).

    Now think of the way that information tends to hang around on the internet: somebody sees an interesting story, makes a copy of it on their website, the original goes away but the copy persists. Also, "sexual offences" cover a broad gamut. Legally there is no distinction between someone who has non-penetrative sex with a 15 year, 364 day old girl who managed to get into an over-18s bar; and someone who participated in gang-rape of a pre-school child. Being caught taking a leak in the street (in times when councils are closing public toilets, and bars and restaurants are erecting bogus "toilets are for customers' use only" signs [they're bogus because entering the premises for the purpose of using the toilet makes you automatically a customer]) is also deemed a sexual offence.

    Still think all this tracking of sexual offenders is a good idea? I know exactly why this man [] did what he did.
    • Re:Bad, bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2006 @10:11AM (#17207070)
      Excellent post!

      Additionally, the whole paedophile issue is totally overblown anyway. Sure, paedophiles exist and when they're caught then impose the stiffest possible penalties on them - but the fact is that there are simply *NOT* hordes of them cyberstalking children on the Internet. Yep, there's a few wierd people out there but kids are a lot more at risk from bullying by their peers, whether on the streets or on the Internet, than they are from paedophiles.

      We have a legal system that is supposed to punish criminals to a point where they can be rehabilitated into the community when they have served a long enough sentence - this is no different whether they have stolen a car, burgled a house, murdered someone or committed an indecent act with a minor. If convicted paedophiles are released back into the community only to re-offend, then it is the legal and rehabilitation systems that need to be changed; this is no different to when a convicted burglar starts breaking into houses again.

      "Sex offenders registers" do absolutely nothing apart from giving small-minded people someone to feel superior over and to justify their behaviour as banner-wielding thugs - you only need to look at these people in news reports to see that they are probably not the sort of people who should be reproducing in the first place.

      Sure, have the legal authorities monitor rehabilited criminals but let them get on with doing that - for the rest of us, it really is none of our business what those who have "paid" for their crimes have done in their pasts.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!