New Jersey Bans Net Access For Sex Offenders
No elected official is going to vote against something called "the KIDS Act," especially when it aims to curb sex offenders’ access to children online. It’s like voting against anti-kitten-punting legislation. In a perfect policy world, though, lawmakers would not just agree on terms, but would also address limitations.
Sometimes, depending on where you live, a sex offender can be someone who went streaking at a ballgame, or somebody busted at the local rub-and-tug. The definition can be very broad, and degrees of offense can be expansive.
The KIDS Act, passed in New Jersey, like proposed laws in other states, would prevent these types of sex offenders from using a "computer or any other device with Internet capability," unless it is for work-related purposes.
Parole officers would regularly supervise, of course.
Now, when it comes to child molesters/rapists, I don’t have any interest in getting into recidivism rates or debates about the effectiveness of rehabilitation, as in this InternetNews.com article; as far as I’m concerned they should be sentenced to a slow, tortuous death via means similar to the nature of their offense (i.e., something horribly invasive and icky). That’s why I can’t be king; my vengeance would be great.
But aside from the broad definition of what makes someone a sex offender, Technology and Marketing Law Blog writer Eric Goldman points out that the New Jersey law suffers from grammatical ambiguity that will eventually make it overreaching. Ten years into the future, for example, a device with Internet capability could be mean just about anything.
Goldman writes, "A TiVo can access the Internet–is that off-limits to sex offenders? When a refrigerator is Internet-accessible, will that be off-limits? Cars are Internet-connected; are they off-limits too? This law makes about as much sense as banning sex offenders from using our road system (which they also use to commit their crimes)."
Yes, that could be a problem. Like I said, I don’t really care what awful things befall the molesters, but blocking access to the Internet because an 18-year-old kid stripped off and ran across a football field seems a little excessive and potentially problematic.