FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero
Santarsiero proposes limited Internet access for registered sex offenders
LOWER MAKEFIELD, Feb. 23 – Building on a promise he made to further protect children from sexual predators, state Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, announced at a news conference today that he has introduced legislation to limit Internet use for sex offenders registered under Pennsylvania's Megan's Law.
Santarsiero was joined at the news conference by Lower Makefield Township Police Chief Kenneth Coluzzi and several township police officers to unveil his legislation, known as the Pennsylvania Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act, or PA e-Stop. The measure would regulate access to the Internet for convicted sexual offenders or sexually violent predators. Santarsiero first proposed the idea last May, before his election to the state House of Representatives.
"As the Internet grows and online communities become more popular, sexual predators are free to use this virtually unregulated technology to prey on children and other unsuspecting individuals," Santarsiero said. "While parents should monitor their children's Internet use and the public should be cautious of strangers online, many dangers exist and there are few online limitations for known offenders."
Santarsiero's proposal would prohibit Internet use for anyone who was convicted of committing a sexual offense using the Internet and subsequently required to register with Megan's Law. The bill also would require all other convicted sex offenders to register with the Pennsylvania State Police any online identities and Internet accounts they might have, including e-mail addresses, personal Web sites, online community memberships and chat room aliases.
For registered sex offenders whose crimes were committed on the Internet, the courts would be allowed to limit their use of online employment-related searches, enforce periodic computer inspections and install key logging devices at the expense of offenders.
Additionally, the state police would be required to maintain the database of online accounts and share the information with Internet network communities such as MySpace or Facebook, which would have the option to monitor or purge sex offenders from their sites. Internet sites that obtain, use and update such information would be able to apply for PA e-Stop certification through the state police.
"My bill would give parents and guardians an added measure of security because it would allow sites to advertise their PA e-Stop certification," Santarsiero said. "As a father and former teacher, I understand the educational value of using the Internet in the classroom and at home. However, if we monitor a sex offender's physical address we should also monitor his online address and presence. My legislation would do that."
In 2005, Santarsiero was the first local official in southeastern Pennsylvania to propose a law preventing convicted sex offenders from moving into a home within 2,500 feet of a school, playground or other place where children typically congregate.
A Youth Internet Safety Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice reports that one in five children ages 10 to 17 has received unwanted sexual solicitations online.
Santarsiero's main constituent service office is located at 2 N. State St. in Newtown. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; the phone number is 212-968-3975. Staff is also available in the Lower Makefield Township Building, located at 1100 Edgewood Road in Yardley, from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. the first Saturday of every month.
The 31st Legislative District includes Newtown Township., Newtown Borough, Lower Makefield Township, Yardley and part of Upper Makefield Township.