New law monitors, limits Web access of sex offenders

New Jersey lawmakers signed legislation Thursday that gives law enforcement the authority to monitor the Web access of convicted sex offenders.

Law enforcement agencies will have the power to monitor and limit Web access for anyone who has been convicted of using a computer to commit a sex offense, making it difficult for sex offenders to prey on kids over the Internet. The law also may be applied to paroled sex offenders under lifetime supervision.

Acting Governor Dick Codey, who is filling in for Gov. Jon Corzine while he is out of town, says using GPS ankle bracelets to track sex offenders is not enough to protect kids anymore. Web sites like Facebook and MySpace make the Internet a prime place for sexual predators to find their next victims.

One teen says she used to have a MySpace account, but canceled it because she didn?t feel comfortable using it anymore. She says she was uncomfortable putting up information like her address and phone number and was afraid of being tracked down.

Acting Gov. Codey says Megan?s Law, which requires convicted sex offenders to register on a Web site, needs to reflect modern times.

?Let?s face it, the Internet isn?t going the way of the eight-track tape anytime soon,? Codey says. ?It?s important to step up to the plate now and provide the tools law enforcement will need to address the threat.?

Codey says the new legislation would subject convicted sex offenders to periodic, unannounced examinations of their computer equipment. It would also require them to install hardware or software in their computers that would allow their Internet use to be monitored.

The legislation also gives the parole board the power to impose Internet restrictions on other sex offenders, regardless of whether they used a computer to conduct their crimes. However, the new law does allow computer use as a tool for finding a job.

Associated Press wire reports contributed to this story.

For footage of the press conference on the sex offender Internet ban bill, go to Channel 612 on your cable box and select iO Extra.

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