Starting tomorrow, January 1, 2009, sex offenders in Georgia will be required by law to provide the state with all of their Internet usernames, email addresses, screen names, and passwords. Georgia joins Utah in this requirement. While Utah’s law is already in place, under a legal ruling last year, Utah was enjoined from requiring the registering of passwords by sex offenders until 2009.
While this may be a well-intended law, it is clearly misguided. Not only is it impossible to police – and what’s to stop someone with bad intentions from simply changing their password after registering it – but it’s completely unnecessary. ISPs are usually more than happy to provide information on their users who are up to no good, so long as the agency requesting the information has a valid subpoena or other legal document requiring the production of that information (which is what the ISP needs to protect themselves against charges of breech of their user’s privacy).
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If there really is no need to collect passwords in order to gain access to the account of a registered sex offender who is under suspicion of doing something wrong – then what possible purpose can collecting these passwords have?
The only thing we can think of is snooping on their Internet activities even if they are under no suspicion of wrong-doing.
And while this on its own is disturbing enough, consider this: It’s not just big hairy guys who have fondled children who have to register as sex offenders. A nineteen year old boy who believes that his girlfriend is 18 when in fact she is only 16 has to register as a sex offender. In many states the same goes for the 18 year old girl who believes that her 17 year old boyfriend is really 18. Sex offenders, every one of them.
In fact, teen girls who are caught sending naked pictures of themselves to their boyfriends have to register as sex offenders! Snooping around their Myspace accounts is a job at which I’d bet most Georgia and Utah officials would jump.
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