A new law that has been passed in US state Louisiana require all convicted sex offenders to disclose their criminal status on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, according to a CNN report.
Many Internet services actively search for and remove sex offenders but State Representative Jeff Thompson, who led the bill, says it will help shore up the situation and provide “another tool for prosecutors”.
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“I don’t want to leave in the hands of social network or Facebook administrators, ‘Gee, I hope someone is telling the truth,'” he said.
The law is actually an extension of existing legislation in the state which requires sex offenders to inform neighbours and school districts in their immediate locale of their past crimes, with the aim of providing greater transparency and awareness.
CNN reports that the law states that convicted sex offenders must “include in his profile for networking websites an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics… and his residential address.”
Those that violate it could face jail time of 2-10 years and a fine of up to $1,000. Consistent disregard carries greater punishment, and a second conviction could result in 5-20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $3,000.
Facebook welcomed the decision as a positive step forward, but maintained that it would have no effect on its service, as its terms and conditions prohibit registered sex offenders from using the site.
The bill came in response to a proposed stricter law that aimed to limit sex offenders use of the Web altogether. Concious that the bill was likely to be challenged by legal circles, Thompson pursued the social network disclosure legislation instead.
The dangers sexual abuse on the Internet were highlighted earlier this month when UK-based TV station Channel 4 broadcast an exposé revealing that lax moderating at kid-focused forum Habbo was allowing it to be exploited for “interactions of an explicit sexual nature.”
The site has since muted all conversations and users on its platform as it increases its security in response to the findings.
Image via Shutterstock / Dmitriy Shironosov