The “Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act” or the “KIDS Act,” introduced by Sen. Schumer (D-NY), was signed by the President on October 13, 2008. The new law requires convicted sex offenders to register Internet identifiers in the National Sex Offender Registry. Additionally, the Act grants the Attorney General authority to permit social networking websites to cross-check their databases with the online identifiers in the registry on a voluntary basis. Below is a summary of the Act.
I. Direction to the Attorney General, Sec. 2
The Act mandates the Attorney General to require sex offenders to provide the National Sex Offender Registry with “Internet identifiers” that sex offenders use. “Internet identifiers” are email addresses and “other designations used for self identification or routing in Internet communication or posting.” The Act also provides the Attorney General with the authority to specify the time and manner by which sex offenders must keep the information they provide to the registry current. The Act prohibits the disclosure of the sex offender’s Internet identifiers to the general public. Additionally, the Act requires the Attorney General to ensure that procedures exist to notify sex offenders of any requirement changes under the new law.
II. Checking System for Social Networking Websites, Sec. 3
a. Secure System for Comparisons—
The Act requires the Attorney General to establish and maintain a secure system allowing social networking websites to compare information contained in the registry with Internet identifiers of its users. Under the provisions of the Act, if a social networking website receives a matched Internet identifier, the Attorney General must provide information relating to the identity of the individual upon request. The Act limits this information to the following: name, sex, resident address, photograph, and physical description. Additionally, the Act limits the release of Internet identifiers; specifically, that the Attorney General and social networking websites may not release to the public any list of Internet identifiers of the sex offenders in the system.
b. Access to & Use of System—
A social networking website seeking to use the secure system must submit an application and pay the fee requirement to the Attorney General in order to access the secure system. The Attorney General may deny, suspend, or terminate use of the secure system by a social networking website if the site: (1) provides false information in its application; (2) may be using the system for unlawful or improper purposes; (3) fails to comply with stated policies and procedures pertaining to individuals who are denied access to the site; or (4) uses information from the system in a manner that is inconsistent with the purposes of the law.
c. Limitation on Liability—
The Act prohibits the bringing of civil claims against social networking websites arising from the use by the website of the registry National Sex Offender Registry. The limitation on liability does not apply if a website has engaged in actual malice, intentional misconduct, or reckless disregard to a substantial risk of causing injury without legal justification. Social networking websites are also required to minimize the number of employees provided access to the Internet identifiers for which a match has been found on the system.
III. Modification of Minimum Standards Required for Electronic Monitoring Units Used in Sexual Offender Monitoring Pilot Program, Sec. 4
Section 4 of the Act amends the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act revising the minimum standards for electronic monitoring of sex offenders under a pilot program by eliminating the requirements that a tracking device contain cellular technology and provide two- and three-way voice communication.