Joining a chorus of states around the country, the Arizona Legislature is considering a bill to require sex offenders to submit their online identities to county sheriff's departments.
Rep. Bob Robson's proposal would require registered sex offenders to divulge their social networking site profiles, e-mail addresses and instant-messaging names to authorities. Anyone refusing to do so would be charged with a felony.
Arizona already collects and publicizes sex offenders' names, ages, photographs and addresses. House Bill 2734 would add online identities to the list.
Parents would be able to view the information on the Arizona Department of Public Safety Web site to verify whom their children are communicating with online. The information also would be used to notify social-networking Web sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Friendster.
Failure to register would amount to a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Frank Kardasz, a Phoenix Police Department sergeant and the project director of the Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said the Internet has been one of the best inventions to help pedophiles lure their prey.
"It doesn't take us that long before police officers are approached online as we're posing as minors," Kardasz said. "This legislation would be a helpful tool for us. It also puts them on notice that we're watching them."