Newsletter - March 2010


Stop Child Predators
Advisory Board

Mark Lunsford
Chairman

Joanna Acocella
Vice President of Federal Relations at Apollo Group, Inc.

Meryl Chertoff
Legislative relations professional, attorney and community volunteer

Viet Dinh
Georgetown University Professor of Law and former Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy at U.S. Department of Justice

Brian Jones
Senior Counsel at Dow Lohnes

Roderick R. Paige, Ed.D.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education
(2001-2005)

Executive Team

Cary Katz
Chairman

Stacie Rumenap
President

Lizette B. Herraiz
Counsel

John Falb
Treasurer & Member of the Board

Table of Contents

President's Message
Greetings everyone from Cheyenne, Wyoming! Mark Lunsford and I are here advocating for a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for convicted sex offenders, aka Jessica's Law. This particular fight marks a two year battle with state lawmakers and I hope to have good news to report in next month's edition of SCP's newsletter.
> Read More

CA Court Upholds Prop 83
California court upholds residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders, Governor promises to defend Jessica's Law.
> Read More

Minnesota Governor Cracks Down on Sex Offenders
Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is ready to crack down on sex offenders. Under his new proposal, people convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct will face a presumptive sentence of 25 years in prison, a drastic increase of the previous 12 year sentence.
> Read More

Model Legislation to Define "Sexting"
Thanks in large part to technology, parents of today's teenagers have more to worry about than how well their child is doing in school or what career they plan to pursue. Today's parents have the added burden of worrying about how technology is affecting their children. Is someone at school bullying them? Is their teenager "sexting," the newest phenomenon of sending nude or semi-nude photos electronically to their boyfriends or girlfriends?
> Read More

Nebraska Lawmakers Consider Legislation to Protect Consumers from Inadvertent File Sharing
Stop Child Predators' President Stacie Rumenap testified before the Nebraska state House Judiciary Committee on February 17th as members considered legislation that would better protect consumers from inadvertently sharing information stored on their computers, and help eliminate the sharing of illegal materials like child pornography, through peer-to-peer applications (commonly referred to as P2P).
> Read More



PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

presidentGreetings everyone from Cheyenne, Wyoming! Mark Lunsford and I are here advocating for a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for convicted sex offenders, aka Jessica's Law. This particular fight marks a two year battle with state lawmakers and I hope to have good news to report in next month's edition of SCP's newsletter.

In the meantime, be sure to read on to learn about efforts to strengthen Jessica's Law in the "10,000 Lakes" state of Minnesota and a California court ruling that upholds residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders.

In this issue, we talk about how to secure a safe Internet experience for children everywhere. You won't want to miss reading about Nebraska's proposal that would prevent consumers from inadvertently sharing information stored on their computers, and help eliminate the sharing of illegal materials like child pornography, through peer- to-peer applications. Or, model legislation that would define "sexting" and its consequences no matter where you may live.

Be sure to also check out Stop Child Predators on Facebook and Twitter where new content is posted regularly, and where action alerts about what's going on in your state can be easily found.

We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter as much as we enjoy sharing the content with you. As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can reach me at srumenap@stopchildpredators.org. Thank you for your continued support. We are confident that together we will end the exploitation of children.

Sincerely,


Stacie Rumenap


CA Court Upholds Prop 83

California court upholds residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders, Governor promises to defend Jessica's Law

The California Supreme Court upheld, in a 5-2 ruling, residency restrictions for sex offenders, as called for in the state's version of Jessica's Law that was passed by voters in 2006 by ballot initiative. Under the law, registered sex offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or areas where children may congregate.

The law enhances penalties for sex crimes, requires lifetime GPS monitoring for sex offenders and mandates residency restrictions. The proposition was approved by an overwhelming 70% majority. The law came under attack last year when some complained that large portions of cities are uninhabitable to sex offenders.

Despite the negative attention from the media and concerned parents, the NFL refuses to pull Townshend from the halftime show, delivering a slap in the face to child victims of sex crimes.


Minnesota governor cracks down on sex offenders

Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is ready to crack down on sex offenders. Under his new proposal, people convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct will face a presumptive sentence of 25 years in prison, a drastic increase of the previous 12 year sentence.

"Sex offenders in our state and across this country continue to present a very serious challenge for the safety of our fellow citizens to our communities and our families," Pawlenty said in announcing the proposal. "They need to be kept off the streets for as long as possible and Minnesota's current laws in that regard can be even further improved."

This proposal will place Minnesota among the states with the toughest laws on sex offenders. In addition to making the streets of Minnesota safer, the increased sentence has the added benefit of saving the state money. Post-prison sex offender treatment can cost $325 a day, compared to $63 a day to keep a sex offender in prison.

Pawlenty also insists that the public works funding bill passed by the state legislature includes funding for the expansion of the Moose Lake sex offender treatment center - where many sex offenders are civilly committed after they complete their prison sentence. The House included this in their version of the bill, and will now go into conference committee with the Senate. Pawlenty has already stated that he will veto the bill if it does not include funding for Moose Lake.

Finally, Pawlenty is also taking on Internet predators by promoting education to children about potential online dangers through NetSmartz, an interactive, educational safety resource from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America for children aged 5 to 17, parents, guardians, educators, and law enforcement that uses age-appropriate, 3-D activities to teach children how to stay safer on the Internet. The proposal calls on state officials to distribute NetSmartz materials to all public schools and is paid for through a federal grant.


Model legislation to define "sexting"

Thanks in large part to technology, parents of today's teenagers have more to worry about than how well their child is doing in school or what career they plan to pursue. Today's parents have the added burden of worrying about how technology is affecting their children. Is someone at school bullying them? Is their teenager "sexting," the newest phenomenon of sending nude or semi-nude photos electronically to their boyfriends or girlfriends?

A rash of sexting incidents have led to varied results. In March of 2009, an 18-year-old Ohio senior, Jesse Logan, hanged herself after nude photos she had sent her boyfriend made it around her high school after Jesse and her boyfriend broke up. Worse still, she isn't the only one to kill herself over sexting.

Cases like the above have caused many state lawmakers to introduce their own legislative definitions and penalties. But as technology evolves, lawmakers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up and define what exactly sexting includes.

Some argue that sexting is simply reckless conduct by teenagers and should be left to parents, schools, and communities to come up with solutions. Others want to allow prosecutors to put teens in jail on felony child pornography charges and are calling for those teens to register as sex offenders.

More and more, courts are being asked to step in, especially when a teenager is facing felony child pornography charges after being caught transmitting sexts. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a Pennsylvania county prosecutor are currently tangling in the Third U.S. Court of Appeals over a Philadelphia sexting incident that involves three young girls sexting via cell phones.

Assistant Professor Jesse Weins, chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at Dakota Wesleyan University, has another solution. He says sexting and its consequences needs to be clearly defined nationwide. Weins teamed up with Todd Hiestand, a professor at Mid America Nazarene University to take on the task of drafting a model law that does just that.

Their model law will define sexting as a misdemeanor but leave room for aggravating circumstances. Meaning, various levels of behavior will be taken into consideration and cases that are more severe will be treated differently.

"States that have responded to this issue so far have responded by creating knee-jerk legislation. They have not thought through all the various types of circumstances. Sexting is not one thing, it's 50 different things, and it can happen in a variety of ways. States have not done a good job thinking through the consequences of various scenarios," Weins said.

Weins's model bill on sexting will be published in an upcoming edition of the Tennessee Law Review.


Nebraska lawmakers consider legislation to protect consumers from inadvertent file sharing of personal information, child pornography

Stop Child Predators' President Stacie Rumenap testified before the Nebraska state House Judiciary Committee on February 17th as members considered legislation that would better protect consumers from inadvertently sharing information stored on their computers, and help eliminate the sharing of illegal materials like child pornography, through peer-to-peer applications (commonly referred to as P2P).

P2P applications connect personal computers to each other for the purpose of sharing or copying computer files and content. While P2P can be used for legitimate purposes, it has been predominantly used to illegally copy millions of copyrighted works and has served as a massive distribution system for child pornography. Even though the technology has been around much longer, P2P joined the national conversation with the popularity and controversy surrounding Napster and other free music sharing services in the late 1990s.

Some P2P programs are intentionally configured to automatically share content on the user's computer with the public at large. Because users must opt out of sharing files, they are often involuntarily sharing personal or confidential files with others like social security numbers, tax returns, loan applications and credit reports.

Legislative Bill 801 (LB 801) calls for developers and distributors of file sharing programs to inform consumers about the functionality and risks of P2P and requires consumers to affirmatively activate any sharing feature on the application. Currently, the sharing option is agreed to as part of multi-page terms and contracts that few if any users read, along with a default setting that automatically allows personal and private files to be shared. With the passage of LB 801, consumers' personal files will no longer be shared unless the consumer has checked a specific box permitting or allowing the public to have access to their private and personal files.

Rumenap told lawmakers that consumers, including children, are often inundated with illegal child pornography when searching for images, music, and video of their favorite singers and entertainers. And those consumers may also inadvertently distribute files containing child pornography that can expose them to potential criminal liability.

"Unknown and untracked, a predator can access a child's files or post explicit images. The decentralized technology creates tracking challenges. Unlike a server, there is no main hub of information and monitoring millions of unique computer connections is difficult. The Federal Trade Commission reported that P2P technology makes it easier for pedophiles to access, distribute and conceal illicit images and videos, putting consumers at risk," Rumenap said.

In November 2009, SCP drafted the white paper, "Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: Pandora's Box of Child Porn?" that recognizes that while P2P technology has many useful and legal purposes, statistics indicate such networks create fertile ground for swapping pornographic material of minors.

LB 801 in Nebraska mirrors efforts by Congress to crack down on illegal file sharing. Congressional House Resolution 1319, the "Informed P2P User Act," requires P2P programs to provide consumers with notice as to which of their files will be shared publicly, and requires the user to affirmatively activate the function that would share their files. The federal Act is supported by 41 state attorneys general.

P2P applications account for between 43 to 70 percent of Internet traffic, depending on region and quality of the Internet connection, according to a 2007 study by iPoque.


For more information concerning the initiatives in your state, or if you would like Stop Child Predators' assistance in drafting, testifying for, or supporting legislation in your state, please visit our website at http://www.stopchildpredators.org and/or call us at (202) 234-0090.