NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City prosecutors on Tuesday endorsed the United States’ first proposed law to ban registered sex offenders from social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, officials said.
The district attorneys from all five of the city’s boroughs announced their support for New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s proposal, which would ban thousands of the state’s sex offenders from communicating with minors online.
The latest of several initiatives taken by Cuomo’s office, the law would force sexual predators to register their instant messaging screen names and enable sites like MySpace and Facebook to block their access.
“The playground today is the Internet,” Cuomo told a news conference. “The same way where we want to know their addresses, we want to know where they live on cyberspace.”
MySpace is part of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp and home to 110 million users globally. It came under state legal scrutiny after some youth members fell prey to adult predators posing as minors.
Last month, MySpace and 49 U.S. state attorneys general agreed on a broad set of guidelines for protecting youths, including developing an e-mail registry that would allow parents to prohibit their children from creating an online profile for the network.
Facebook, a privately held smaller rival, in October agreed with Cuomo to settle a child-safety probe in which the site promised to address within 24 hours any complaint about inappropriate content and allow an independent examiner to oversee how it handles complaints.
Both firms support the newly proposed restrictions, Cuomo said.
“They want to be able to tell parents, ‘Come to this site because it is a safe site’,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s bill called the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP) was introduced into the New York state legislature with bipartisan support last week.
According to Cuomo’s office, if passed, the law would be the first in a U.S. state that expressly bans convicted sex offenders from contacting minors on social networking sites.
Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Daniel Trotta and Philip Barbara