Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Representative Teilhet authors a bill to remove sex offenders from MySpace, FaceBook

Smyrna,GA– In an effort to protect Georgia’s children from online predators, Representative Rob Teilhet of the 40th House District authored the ‘Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act’—or ‘E-STOP’—to remove registered sex offenders from popular online social networking websites like MySpace and FaceBook.

“The internet is a powerful social and educational tool for our children. It should not be a dangerzone populated by pedophiles,” said Representative Teilhet. “Nothing is more important than keeping our children safe from predators, and passing E-STOP is a strong first step.”

E-STOP will allow the GBI, upon request, to transmit registered sex offenders’ information to authorized social networking websites. These internet entities can then remove the sex offenders from their websites and ban them from creating profiles. In the course of removing the sex offenders from the site, if the website finds suspicious activity, such as inappropriate communications with minors, the website providers will notify GBI.

“A lot has changed from when I was growing up—including how children come into contact with strangers. It’s not just the playgrounds and neighborhoods parents have to worry about, it’s our home computers and the internet,” said Representative Teilhet. “Our kids are playing, studying and communicating with their friends online. Social networking websites are a way of life for kids these days—and child predators know it.”

Social networking websites allow users to sign up and communicate with other users over the internet. Communications can include, but are not limited to, instant messaging, emailing, and sharing photographs and videos. Two popular social networking websites are MySpace and FaceBook, and both of those sites are already working hard to keep their users, particularly minors, safe from online predators. But social networking companies can only do so much without the cooperation of law enforcement.

Studies indicate that between two of the most popular sites, FaceBook and MySpace, more than 100 million minors maintain active profiles. Statistics from online safety advocates such as Enough is Enough, indicate that 1 in 5 children who use chat rooms have been approached by pedophiles over the Internet and that 1 in 33 children were aggressively solicited for sex online. Sadly, only 25 percent of those children ever told their parents about the solicitation.

“These website companies want to do the right thing. MySpace has already removed 50,000 child predators who had established profiles. But to keep these sites safe they need us to provide the data,” said Representative Teilhet.

E-STOP legislation has already become law in New York and both California and Oklahoma are considering similar measures this year.

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