Online Child Safety Act Announced in New Hampshire

Bill requires sex offenders to register e-mail addresses; increases penalties for using technology to lure children.

by / December 13, 2007

The Online Child Safety Act is a piece of legislation aimed at providing greater safety for children using the Internet. It was unveiled today by Governor John Lynch, Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and law enforcement officials. The Online Child Safety Act will modernize the state's child enticement laws and toughen criminal penalties for predators who use computer technology to exploit and victimize children.

"We will not allow sexual predators to hide in the shadows of cyberspace. The Online Safety Act modernizes our laws to protect our children from the threats of the 21st century," Lynch said.

The Online Safety Act increases penalties for enticing a child over the Internet, and adds enhanced penalties for repeat offenders; it overhauls and expands child pornography laws to better reflect the victimization that occurs everyday when images of sexually abused children are created and distributed over the Internet; and it closes a loophole in indecent exposure and lewdness laws to enable law enforcement to capture sex offenders using Web cams. The legislation also requires convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail address and online identity.

"With technology we can sit in our living rooms and pay our bills, book a vacation, or keep in touch with friends and family across the country with just a couple of clicks," Lynch said. "Unfortunately, technology also makes it easier for criminals to sneak into our homes. We must ensure our laws are protecting our children from threats posed by today's technological world."

In 2006, Lynch worked with lawmakers, the attorney general and the state's police chiefs to craft one of the toughest and most comprehensive child protection laws in the nation. The current state budget creates and funds an Internet crimes prosecutor position in the Attorney General's Office to address this growing problem.

"Over the last year, I have given presentations to parents, teens and schools across New Hampshire on Internet safety. As parents, we are all deeply concerned about criminals using the Internet to exploit and prey on our children," said Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. "I am convinced that in addition to education, New Hampshire needs stronger laws to crack down on Internet predators. I am proud to work with Governor Lynch in drafting this legislation allowing prosecutors to seek much tougher penalties against Internet predators. Passing this legislation will send a strong message to Internet predators to stay away from our children."