John McCain offered up an idea during a speech today that was both superficial and displayed a gross misunderstanding of the Internet. The idea he has been pushing would require sex offenders to register their email address and IM screen name with the Justice Department.
“I believe those convicted of preying upon our children should not be allowed to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, which is why I am pleased to hear the Justice Department, consistent with legislation I have been pushing, will soon require convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail and instant message addresses with the Department’s national registry,” McCain said.
No one should want sex offenders to have access to kids, but anyone who has ever used a computer knows how easy it is to set up multiple email accounts and IM screen names. McCain’s idea would not help anything. In fact, it is flat out pandering. Short of having ISP’s filter access to sex offenders, there is very little that the government can do about this issue.
I think a more relevant question is, should the government do anything, or does the responsibility rest with parents? The best ways that a parent can protect their child is keep the computer in a public room in the house, monitor both what their children look at and who they talk to online. Parents shouldn’t let small children have their own email accounts an IM screen names.
The best way to protect your kids is to be involved with their computer time. I think McCain has been watching too many Dateline: To Catch a Predator episodes. Is it more frightening that a so called conservative such as McCain would stress big government over parents, or that he would offer such an idiotic mirage of a solution?