Convicted sex offenders in US targeted for on-line identity registration

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Virginia is poised to become the first U.S. state to require convicted sex offenders to report e-mail addresses and on-line identities to the state’s sex offender registry.

Attorney General Bob McDonnell said Monday that he supports new reporting requirements of a legislative proposal expected to be introduced by Senator Ryan McDougle (Republican Party-Hanover County) for consideration by the Virginia General Assembly when it convenes in January. The legislation would help on-line social networking communities popular among youth groups, such as MySpace and Facebook, prevent sex offenders from using their sites.

"This legislation is an important recognition that the Internet has become a community as real as any other neighborhood and is in need of similar safeguards," officials of MySpace said in response to the announcement. Chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam of the 125-million-user MySpace site said the law would be "a landmark moment in the history of Internet safety."

A U.S. national blacklist will be used by MySpace to ban registered sex offenders. A database called "Sentinel Safe", under development by Sentinel Tech Holding Corp., will be used to check national and state records. Nigam said, "Sentinel Safe will allow us to aggregate all publicly available sex offender databases into a real-time searchable form making it easy to cross-reference and remove known registered sex offenders from the MySpace community."

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