OH senator moves to access to predator online names

Should sex offender screen names be available to public or kept only for police investigators?
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

An Ohio senator is pushing to revise a law to allow parents to view online aliases used by convicted sexual predators, reports the Register Herald.

An Ohio law currently mandates that convicted sex offenders report their Internet screen names to State Police. Initially, that information was restricted to investigators but the law was expanded so that the information no longer was kept from the public .

Ohio State Senator Evan Jenkins wants to take the law even farther by allowing parents to have access to those IDs so they can check to see if their children are chatting with anyone who's name is on this list.

"That's all I was asking, that State Police make a decision about whether or not they would post the information that they now have, the statutory ability to post them," said Jenkins.

Last summer, when a law was enacted to expand penalties for pedophiles, Jenkins added an amendment to allow public access to the names, which then became an optional part of the overall bill.

"It wasn't mandatory," he acknowledged. "But I was hoping that with the prohibition for making it public off the books it would readily make it available. But the State Police have not done so yet. I've pushed hard over the past year to get them to do so."

Critics of the amendment say that offenders not preying on children via computers could face harassment from the public.

"If you have a particular screen name or user name that is popping up that you're aware of is communicating with your child, then you can go to the State Police Web site and type that in and it will search its database and tell you whether or not there's a match, if that person is a registered sex offender," the senator said.
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