Kentucky has a new law requiring sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses, instant messenger id’s, and chat room ids. See Lawreader article for more details. I think all the sex offender laws raise some unique Constitutional concerns. This one will raise some ex post facto questions to be sure. However, that is not the source of my curiosity. My curiosity is about how this law makes any practical difference.
Does anyone really believe that an internet savvy sex offender will register ALL their e-mails and ids? Assuming any sex offender with two brain cells to spare for thinking things through, while all the other ones are obsessing on their next victim, will hold in reserve a special e-mail address or id, how exactly will the state enforce this law? Do they really have the manpower and resources to reach into each computer that each offender uses to track down other e-mails and ids? What about obtaining search warrants – or does this fall under the national security “exception” to the Fourth Amendment? Curious.
What exactly is going to prompt MySpace and other such private companies to do this proposed cross-referencing. That will certainly cost money and resources. Also, if they find an offender’s information registered with them, but there have been no complaints about inappropriate behavior, do they summarily refuse them access? Curious.
Don’t get me wrong – if this law actually works and prevents more child sexual abuse, then I will be happy about the result while remaining concerned about mangling the Constituion. No, my curiosity is about how emotion can blind us to practicality and how the desire for political posing creates poorly concieved though wonderfully intentioned legislation. By poorly conceived, I mean that before legislation is put forth, one really should ask “Is this law going to be enforceable?” If not, then keep thinking because we really do not need more specious laws on the books.
If I have misunderstood this new law, then I invite comments. I am, after all, anti-sexual abuse. I simply want the laws designed to prevent it to be effective and Constitutionally sound ones.