Bill declares MySpace and the like off-limits to sex offenders
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) - A plan to banish convicted sex offenders from social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook is moving through the Minnesota House.
The bill from Rep. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, would prohibit sex offenders from using social sites that allow members under the age of 18. It would also authorize probation agents to search offender's computers and other online devices.
Bigham's bill won unanimous approval in the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday, although some lawmakers questioned whether it could be more sweeping.
"I'm going to support the bill, but I'd encourage expanding it and banning the Internet use then, like New Jersey does," said Rep. Chris DeLaForest, R-Andover.
New Jersey last year banned Internet use for convicted sex offenders who used a computer to commit their original sex crime. The Minnesota proposal was pushed by the office of Attorney General Lori Swanson.
"Seem like every month we hear news stories about a sexual assault of a child where the predator met the victim over the Internet on a site like MySpace," deputy state attorney general David Voigt told lawmakers.
The proposal would not cover dating Web sites that take only adult members, nor would it prevent sex offenders from creating their own Web sites.
Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, said he was also concerned about the potential for predators to find victims through online gaming sites.
The bill's next stop is the House Public Safety Finance Division.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)