Sen. George Runner today announced that Facebook supports his legislation that would require all registered sex offenders to register their online addresses with state law enforcement.
“Facebook supports this legislation, and shares your goal of creating a safer online environment for Californians,” said Facebook Public Policy Director Tim Sparapani in a in a letter sent to Runner this week.
Runner, also author of Jessica’s Law and Amber Alert, said he is pleased to have the support of the world’s number one social networking website.
“Facebook has an impressive record of blocking sex offenders from its site,” Runner said. “It’s great to partner with an organization that places a high priority on child safety.”
Runner calls Senate Bill 1204 another tool for law enforcement to use in monitoring some of society’s most dangerous sex offenders, like admitted rapist/murder John Albert Gardner. “If the offenders don’t comply with new registration requirements, they risk up to six months in jail, under SB 1204,” Runner said.
Besides registering online addresses, one of the objectives of SB 1204 is to prevent sex offenders from joining social sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. While on parole, sex offenders can be prohibited from accessing social networking sites. Once parole is completed, however, a sex offender is free to join such sites.
By requiring sex offenders to register their online addresses, SB 1204 not only creates a database for law enforcement but creates a tool, which can be used to get sexual predators off social networking sites. While the law cannot directly prohibit sex offenders who are no longer on parole from joining, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have voluntarily purged thousands of registered sex offenders from New York.
As the bill moves forward, Runner said he is committed to ensure that online address information collected under SB 1204 may be used to permit social networking sites to voluntarily purge registered sex offenders from the sites.
California will join New York and Illinois in enacting such a law. New York became the first state to pass a similar bill in 2008, known as “e-STOP,” which was sponsored by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo said more than 3,500 registered New York sex offenders have been purged from Facebook and MySpace since the bill passed, including a man convicted of assaulting a 14-year-old boy and another man who raped a 2-year-old girl.
John Walsh, co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and host of “America’s Most Wanted, supports New York e-STOP saying last year in a press release that “New York sets the gold standard for other states to follow.”
SB 1204 is supported by statewide law enforcement agencies and associations and faced no opposition in the Senate. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee in the coming weeks.