Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo to Get Info on Thousands of Sex Offenders Found on MySpace
Attorney General Greg Stumbo announced today that MySpace has agreed to turn over names and other information about convicted sex offenders the company has identified on its website.
Stumbo will share this information about registered sex offenders with law enforcement, including the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation and Kentucky State Police. The data can be used to look for potential parole violations by offenders who may be barred from using a computer or contacting minors.
In April, Attorney General Stumbo held a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda to highlight Kentucky’s new law requiring the state’s 6,245 registered sex offenders to register their “electronic mail addresses and any instant messaging, chat, or other Internet communication name identities” with the Kentucky State Police Sex Offender Registry (Senate Bill 65 sponsored by Senator Ray Jones II of Pikeville). The new law allows online companies, including social networking sites, to cross-check its members against the KSP Sex Offender Registry. Chief Security Officer for MySpace, Hemanshu Nigam of California, spoke at the press conference regarding the importance of partnering with states in enforcing restrictions for sex offenders.
“Kentucky is leading the way in requiring convicted sex offenders to register their online addresses in the same way that they are currently required to register their physical addresses,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “We are working diligently and taking proactive steps in making the Internet safer for all.”
Following a letter sent by state attorneys general to MySpace on May 14 demanding that the company turn over information about sex offenders, MySpace confirmed that Sentinel Tech Holdings has already identified thousands of registered sex offenders as members of the popular social networking site. MySpace has deleted these users from its site but has preserved information about them and will provide it to the attorneys general.
MySpace will continue to search its site for registered sex offenders, and will give the states information about all offenders found on its site including their email and IP addresses. The attorneys general commended MySpace for taking this important safety step.
In 2006 alone, the nationwide media reported almost 100 criminal incidents across the country involving adults who used MySpace to prey or to attempt to prey on children.
“The fact that many sex offenders have used MySpace underscores how dangerous social networking sites can be for children,” Attorney General Stumbo added. “I remain concerned about other sex offenders who may be on the site using an alias and misrepresenting their age.”
Since May of 2006, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal have been leading a group of attorneys general from 52 states and territories including Kentucky who are pushing social networking sites to do a better job protecting children from threats such as sexual predators and inappropriate content.
Last week’s letter, written by eight attorneys general on behalf of the larger group, is just the latest part of this effort. Because of the push of the attorneys general, MySpace has previously taken other steps to improve safety on its site such as screening profiles for inappropriate content and making certain profiles private. The attorneys general are continuing to urge MySpace to require parental permission for children to be on its site, among other safety steps.
Attorney General Stumbo’s Kentucky Bureau of Investigation last month conducted its second successful child sexual predator sting and has now arrested 20 men for attempting to solicit sex with a minor over the Internet. Stumbo’s office is also conducting i-Jam seminars across the state for parents, teachers and students. Participants share personal stories and attend skill-building workshops focused on adult Internet crime, cyber-predators, social networking (MySpace/Facebook), cyberbullying, suicide prevention and more.
The Office of the Attorney General, partnering with the Kentucky Center for School Safety, has presented national anti-bullying spokesperson John Halligan whose son Ryan was a suicide victim. Stumbo’s Internet safety outreach initiative is one of the products of the i-Shield Task Force that he established November 6, 2006. “The i-Assembly programs have been tremendously well received by teachers, administrators and students and will continue to be a focus of my office when school resumes next fall,” said Attorney General Stumbo.
The purpose of the Task Force is to encourage law enforcement to work together to educate our children, teachers, parents and communities about online risks and give them the instruction they need to avoid becoming the next Internet crime victim. The Task Force has worked with the non-profit group i-Safe America to help promote Internet safety in schools and communities. It also brings together school resource officers and other crime prevention professionals to promote cybersafety in the schools.
The i-Shield Task Force produces a bi-monthly electronic newsletter which details Task Force activities and shares information about Internet crime and steps law enforcement are taking to combat it. Task Force members, as well as other law enforcement contacts, receive the newsletter electronically, and it is posted on the Kentucky i-Shield Task Force electronic bulletin board at www.i-safe.org.
As Kentucky’s top law officer, Attorney General Stumbo has made keeping Kentucky’s children safe online a top priority. In the near future he plans to have a major announcement regarding his office’s Internet child protection enforcement efforts.