Mass MySpace Panic: Keeping the Dream Alive


Psyched for the next congressional session? Here's a taste of the fun to come:

New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer and Arizona Republican John McCain, in a press release, said they planned to introduce a bill at the beginning of the 110th Congress in January that would require registered sex offenders to submit their active e-mail addresses to law enforcement.

The legislation would enable social networking sites like MySpace to cross-check new members against a database of registered sex offenders and ensure that predators are unable to sign up for the service.

One wonders whether anyone actually had to sit down and write this bill, or it just emerged fully formed as McCain and Schumer locked eyes across a crowded room, the demented love child of some bipartisan baby-kissing orgy. How is this supposed to work? Determined offenders will create alternate email accounts faster than you can say "Maf54." If someone is caught committing an actual sex crime, surely that verboten gmail account will be the least of his, or the prosecution's, concerns. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people guilty of nothing more than consensual sex will be forced to surrender their email information to government officials.

The whole forced email registration idea has one thing going for it. It's been tried and tested, a feature of Myanmar's military dictatorship for years now.