Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway & Representative Bell Introduce Cybersafety Legislation
Attorney General Jack Conway and Representative Johnny Bell of Glasgow today outlined legislation that will help keep Kentucky families safe by strengthening laws prohibiting internet child predators.
“This legislation is the result of reviewing the Kentucky Revised Statutes for needed updates to keep pace with technology and cybercriminals that prey on our children,” General Conway said. “We’ve listened to parents and law enforcement officers from across the state, and this bill will give police and prosecutors the tools they need to arrest and convict criminals who are trying to harm Kentucky kids.”
The legislation is a committee substitute to an original bill introduced as House Bill 367 by Rep. Bell. The original bill amends KRS 510.155 to allow law enforcement officers to use specially trained or non-sworn personnel for online stings.
“Attorney General Conway and I have worked closely to develop laws that will prevent sexual predators from using new technology to prey on our youth,” Rep. Bell said. “This legislation expands the ability of law enforcement and prosecutors to further protect our children.”
General Conway worked with Rep. Bell to expand the scope of the original legislation to include broader areas of cybersafety. The bill, cosponsored by Rep. Rob Wilkey of Scottsville, prohibits registered sex offenders from using social-networking websites that are frequented by minors, like MySpace and Facebook. Passage of this bill will allow Kentucky prosecutors to criminally charge sex offenders removed from the sites. Since May of last year, MySpace has removed the profiles of 40,000 sex offenders; 350 of those were from Kentucky.
The legislation also requires that sex offenders update their email addresses and online identifiers with the registry in a similar fashion as they update their physical addresses. The email addresses and online profiles will be available in a searchable database that will be accessible to the public. Email addresses will be removed from individual pages on the registry because of the concern that sex offenders may use these email addresses to communicate with each other or create online communities. These changes will bring the registry into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
The bill amends Kentucky’s stalking statute to include cyberstalking, recognizing that threats or harassment can take place online and in person.
“This is such an important issue for innocent Kentuckians who’ve had their lives torn apart by criminals threatening them or their families on the Internet,” General Conway said.
The bill brings Kentucky statutes up-to-date with changes in technology. It closes the loophole in current law by clarifying that is a crime for a person to transmit live sexually explicit images of themselves to minors over the Internet via webcam or other technological devices.
Police will also be able to seize personal property, such as a computer or car, which has been used in the commission of online sexual offenses against children.
The legislation will be presented by Rep. Bell and General Conway on Wednesday during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee at 12 p.m. in the Capitol Annex, Room 171.
In addition to the cybersafety legislation, Attorney General Conway has pledged to create an Internet Crimes Unit that will be operational this spring. The group will investigate crimes committed online, from scams to solicitation of minors.
For more information about cybersafety, visit www.ag.ky.gov.