The British government wants to ban convicted pedophiles from using social networking Web sites such as Facebook, the Home Office said Friday.
The plan involves forcing sex offenders to give any e-mail address they use to police, who will then ask the Web sites to block their access, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said. Smith said the proposal is aimed at sending out the message that the Internet is not a no-go area when it comes to law enforcement.
We are changing the law ... so that we have got better control over the way in which child sex offenders are able to use the Internet, Smith said on GMTV. The government wants to prevent pedophiles from using social networking Web sites to groom children to be sexual abuse victims, according to the Home Office.
Under the proposed legislation, it would be a crime punishable by up to five years in prison for a convicted child sex offender to use an e-mail address that has not been registered with police, a Home Office spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.
However, the government acknowledges it has yet to work out the details of how the plan would work. The proposal faces many hurdles, including the fact that anyone can instantly create a new e-mail address online and that Facebook, MySpace and most other popular social networking sites are based outside Britain.
In addition to the new proposal, British police already have a range of means to monitor and assess the threat convicted sex offenders pose over the Internet, including obtaining warrants to search convicted pedophiles home to make a risk assessment, the spokesman said. The legislation is expected to be put before parliament by the end of the year and will apply to the more than 30,000 sex offenders already on the register as well as any new convictions, the Home Office said.