McMorris Rodgers Introduces Legislation to Protect Children from Online Predators

(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers today introduced legislation to keep our children safe from online sexual predators.  H.R. 3144, The Internet Sex Offender Prohibition Act of 2007 will impose mandatory penalties for registered sex offenders who knowingly access an Internet website with the intent to communicate with an unsuspecting child.

“This year I became a mother, and like every parent, it is important for me to keep my child safe as he grows up and protect him from anyone who would do him harm,” said McMorris Rodgers. “This year I was also introduced to social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. It is alarming that they are being used by thousands of registered sex offenders as a way to prey on innocent children. We must take steps to prevent sex offenders from accessing these sites before they have an opportunity to harm our children. This bill sends a clear message to sex offenders that if they use these Internet sites to contact children they will go to jail.”

The Associated Press reported today that MySpace.com has identified over 29,000 sex offenders with profiles on their site. This is four times the number that was reported by the company two months ago. According the FBI, as many as 50,000 child predators are prowling the Internet, and one in five children between the ages of 10 and 17 will receive a sexual solicitation online during their lifetime.

“Nearly 4,200 children in Spokane County were victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect in 2005,” continued McMorris Rodgers. “We must not only focus on keeping children safe from strangers they meet on the street, but protecting them from strangers they meet online.”

"Protection of our children who are accessing the internet is paramount,” said Shane Desgrosellier, President and CEO of Guardien Technologies in Spokane. “Today, new technologies and stronger legislation will significantly broaden and strengthen the front lines to protecting our children while online. This bill introduced by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a significant and necessary step in legislation and together with new technologies we are excited to make significant and proactive steps toward complete online protection without having to rely on software."

The Internet Sex Offender Prohibition Act would amend Section 2251 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code to include a mandatory penalty of 5 to 20 years in prison for any individual required to register as a sex offender who knowingly access an Internet website with the intent to communicate with an unsuspecting child under the age of 18.

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