Calling it an "awful problem that's found a new way to get worse," Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced Monday in Buffalo that he will introduce two bills he hopes will help curtail child pornography on the Internet.
Schumer appeared with several local law enforcement officials in the Erie County district attorney's office to urge expansion of the requirements governing registered sex offenders by requiring them to register their e-mail addresses, too.
"It's amazing there aren't laws on the books that deal with the Internet," Schumer said. "While [sex offenders] have to register their home address, they don't have to register their online address."
The first of his two new laws would allow social networking Web sites registered with the attorney general to cross-check users' information against the registry.
"They are relentless and driven, . . . and so they have discovered the Internet as a way of enabling them to do their dastardly deeds," Schumer said of online child sex predators. "It's not foolproof, but just like with [registering] physical addresses, this can make a large, large dent."
The New York Democrat is joining with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a bipartisan effort he said will result in the new online registry by Labor Day. He said it is time to home in on sex offenders beyond knowing where they live to get to their e-mail addresses.
He acknowledged that anyone can change an e-mail address but said the new law could make it much more difficult -- especially for the 1,348 sex offenders in Western New York under the supervision of a probation officer.
Schumer also has proposed another law to provide grants to local and state law enforcement agencies to fund personnel who would monitor the Internet for suspects who might be e-mailing children.
The bill would call for the electronic service providers to report online child pornography and impose higher fines and criminal penalties on companies that do not.
"A lot of the detective work is done seated at a computer, but it takes extra people," he said. "Like any parent, I wish the eyes of God would monitor the Internet. We don't have that, but at least we have come across a man-made instrument that will do the job."
Schumer said child pornography in the United States is estimated to be a $3 billion annual business.
He also cited statistics indicating that Internet child pornography increased by 34 percent in 2004 alone and that one in five children have received a sexual solicitation online.
The senator was joined at a news conference by Sheriffs Timothy B. Howard of Erie County and Thomas A. Beilein of Niagara County, District Attorneys Edward M. Sharkey of Cattaraugus County and David W. Foley of Chautauqua County, and two members of the Erie County district attorney's office: John J. DeFranks, first deputy district attorney, and Scott F. Riordan, assistant chief of the Sex Offenses Bureau.