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2007 Subject: A.9859 (Lentol) / S.6875 (Skelos) (AN ACT to amend the correction law, the penal law, the executive law and the state finance law, in relation to the protection of people who use internet services from convicted sex offenders).Position: OPPOSED This legislation proposes a broad regulatory scheme that is intended to address the “clear and present danger” posed by “sexual predator[s]” who engage in communication via the internet.And yet the evidence suggests these laws do more harm than good. The psychology literature reports that such an approach reduces recidivism rates among sex offenders by 40 to 60 percent.With sufficient funding and coordination of resources, reported reductions in recidivism are significantly higher.The producers of the documentary observed that, "One of the biggest surprises in making this film was the discovery that the threat of online predators is misunderstood and overblown. Kidnapping or sexual abuse of a child by a stranger is an extremely rare occurrence.

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As a policy matter, this measure drops all pretense of tailoring the provisions of e-STOP to regulating the conduct of individuals who pose a risk of recidivism or for whom the anonymity of the internet may serve as a disinhibitor.The proposed law would authorize the state to provide private internet entities with electronic identifiers – user names, e-mail addresses, access providers – for all registered offenders so that internet entities may bar access to internet services and advise government entities, including law enforcement of “potential . These restrictions prohibit registered sex offenders from using the internet to access pornographic material and commercial social networking websites; to communicate with other individuals or groups for the purpose of promoting sexual relations with persons under the age of eighteen; or to communicate with a person under the age of eighteen when such offenders are over the age of eighteen.The sponsor’s memorandum accompanying the e-STOP bill states that the legislation would impose “reasonable and appropriate” restrictions on the use of the internet by registered sex offenders. Supreme Court jurisprudence, however, sets a higher bar: a broadly framed regulatory scheme restricting constitutional rights of speech and expression must be narrowly tailored to accomplish a compelling government interest. What’s more, as a practical matter, it is unlikely that the proposed legislation would deter unlawful activity facilitated by the internet.Disclosure of Internet Identifiers Section Five of e-STOP authorizes the state to disclose the complete database of internet identifiers used by all classes of sex offenders for the purpose of enabling an internet entity “to prescreen or remove sex offenders from its services or, in conformity with state and federal law, advise law enforcement and/or other governmental entities of potential violations of law and/or threats to public safety.” “Authorized internet entity” is defined as any entity “providing or offering a service over the internet which permits persons less than eighteen years of age to access, meet, congregate or communicate with other users for the purpose of social networking.” This proscription is sweeping in scope.It neither employs an individualized assessment of risk nor distinguishes between a level one offender and a level three offender.

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