A Minnesota House committee approved legislation today that would ban sexual predators from social networking Web sites.
The bill would prohibit any registered sex offender in Minnesota from logging on to sites like Facebook or MySpace. Participation in Web-based chat rooms would also be banned. DFL Representative Karla Bigham of Cottage Grove said state officials could warn sex offenders about the ban in a regular notification of prohibited activities. Bigham said enforcing the law would not be a problem.
"When you are a registered sex offender you are subject to searches of your person, house, car," Bigham said. "We are going to extend that to the computer and PDAs and such."
During a House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee hearing today, Assistant Attorney General David Voigt said social networks are trying to remove sex offenders from their sites, but they need help.
"Their problem is that there's nothing to prevent the sex offenders from going there in the first place, other than maybe their own user agreements, which can be disregarded," Voigt said. "And their problem is they can't always identify registered sex offenders. And this is something that goes to that problem."
The committee also approved a bill to prevent sexual predators using any electronic device, including cell phones, to solicit children. The measure would close a loophole in a current law covering the use of computers.