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UK Propose Registering Screen Names with Police

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the in-england-you-only-get-one-online-name dept.

Privacy 282

Oxygen99 writes "In a series of kneejerk suggestions following this online rape plot, the UK Home Secretary, Dr John Reid has suggested that offenders on the Sex Offenders Register should register their online identities with the police. According to a home office spokesman this means that offenders, 'online identities would be treated in exactly the same way as their real name'. So, just how misguided is this and who's going to be the first to tell him?"

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good idea (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905500)

Having kids, I don't think this is misguided...

Re:good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905532)

as long as the records are public. and include addresses and ages. and school. and hair color.

Re:good idea (3, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905584)

Having kids, I don't think this is misguided...
... says Mister Anonymous Coward.

Re:good idea (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906312)

... says Mister Anonymous Coward.

Don't worry, his name will be on the register soon.

Twice.

Re:good idea (2, Insightful)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905620)

Having kids, I don't think this is misguided...

If you don't see anything wrong with it, then I think that your having kids was misguided....

Re:good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905622)

Perhaps not misguided in terms of intent. The obvious issue is that most of us have 2-8 "screen names". It is quite easy to obtain "screen names" at will.

A real "solution" would need to be quite a bit more complicated. It is absolutely misguided because it couldn't fool my eight year old cousin, let alone a predatory sex offender.

Re:good idea (3, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905790)

Agreed. It's not so much misguided as it is unenforceable. I don't necessarily think it's a bad idea to track convicted rapists online, but it's certainly futile without direct monitoring of their internet activity.

"Yes, officer, my screen name is 'Optix.'"

*goes home*

www.yahoo.com

Don't have a Yahoo! ID?

Signing up is easy.

Re:good idea (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905836)

You miss part of the point of laws like this. This adds to the number of crimes they've committed when they're caught after the fact. So on a second rape, for example, they'll add all of the unregistered screen names to the list of crimes, to make sure they go away for that much longer.

Re:good idea (1)

niconorsk (787297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905900)

If that was really the intent of the proposal, wouldn't it be easier to, I don't know, increase the punishment for the crimes he has already committed.

Re:good idea (1)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906160)

You make this sound like a bad thing. I mean, if we are talking a convicted sex offender, should a longer 2nd stay in prison be a good idea?

I agree with the unenforceable aspect of this law more than anything though. I just don't see how this could be done. Perhaps monitoring all internet activity off their computer? Got me.

Actually, exactly what does anyone see as a fully negative effect of this? Didn't Slashdot recently cover a case of a rapist that got away with it because the law didn't explicitly name instant messaging in the communication? Maybe I am missing something.

RonB

Re:good idea (1)

2think (703041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906152)

Ah but you see, that really should be the crux of this argument, shouldn't it? After a law such as this is passed, how then do we 'protect the children' except to monitor all Internet activity. Perhaps not in a 24/7 capacity but if we can stipulate that due to this law we might need to monitor some subnet for a little while just to make sure that certain offenders were not using unknown names, well, it's all in the name of protecting society.

I don't think any of us have much sympathy for sex offenders but surely something like this can be put aside for more effective techniques that are less prone to abuse.

Re:good idea (3, Insightful)

Zenaku (821866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905646)

Then you haven't considered the practical questions of how it could be implemented. Screen names are self-chosen, and typically numerous. There is no universal respository of screen names that is shared by the whole of the internet. HappyMonkeyPooFace on slashdot may be a totally different person than HappyMonkeyPooFace on MySpace.

Am I supposed to check some registry somewhere before I pick my screen name, just in case some rapist has already used it somewhere else? How will the authorities know who they are monitoring?

A screen name simply can't be used for identification purposes of this sort -- it is nothing more than a self-chosen highly context sensitive nickname.

Please, explain to me how you would implement such a proposal.

Re:good idea (1)

thetroll123 (744259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905694)

>HappyMonkeyPooFace on slashdot may be a totally different person than HappyMonkeyPooFace on MySpace. Well, maybe you could register both the screenname AND the site where it's used. That should make for a unique combination, wouldn't you say?

Re:good idea (3, Insightful)

Zenaku (821866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905984)

That still doesn't get you anything. Because HappyMonkeyPooFace on slashdot could have a hundred other logins on slashdot as well. Bottom line is that there is no one-to-one relationship between people and screen names. No matter how many screen names you register as belonging to John Q. Sexoffender, he can always get another one that isn't registered, and how are you gonna know?

In other words, this plan boils down to, "Hey everybody on the internet, if you are a predator, please let us know before you rape our children, K?"

The whole suggestion depends on the voluntary self-identification of sex offenders, and if we could count on that, we wouldn't NEED any system at all. The only thing such a policy could possibly do is provide additionaly criminal penalties that can be tacked on once an offender is caught, which is ridiculous because the penalties for their actual crime should be enough to keep them locked up forever.

Re:good idea (2, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905648)

Having kids, I don't think this is misguided...

That's because you're assuming you're not ever going to be in that database or one like it.

Re:good idea (0)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905882)

I can see a lot of other comments about how easy this is to bypass being ok...

But let me make sure I am reading this right, because I don't think I am.

Are you suggesting we shouldn't do this out of kindness, respect or decency towards the scum that is sexual predators?

I would disagree because its a waste of money and easy to get around, but due to the nature of this kind of thing... We'll I assume (fairly safely) I'll never be on "that list", but if someone came to me and told me that I'd be on that list in 10 years, I'd still want measures like that around, though if possible, much harder to bypass; say deny them unsupervised computer access.

How about this? (1)

Hyrveli (1025982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906106)

This is an idea that's quite far-fetched, but someday might just work:

Force everyone to lie about their personal information on the Internet. It's certainly easier than the current model, in which children are told not to tell anything about themselves. Then the criminals wouldn't know who to target, since they're not the only ones lying their asses off.

Ok, this probably won't work, but if this would be what schools and parents would teach their children to do for decades to come, it could be feasible.

Re:good idea (2, Insightful)

Shaper_pmp (825142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906058)

So how do you stop people just instantly registering a new e-mail address with hotmail, GMail, Yahoo mail, 10-Minute Mail, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc?

See the problem yet?

And for usernames, how many times have you tried to sign up to a site to be met with: "Username 'm0le5ter69' already in use, please choose another"? So what chance is there of having a register with "their" username on it? Even if the paedophile plays along and reports every online account he sets up, they could well wind up with hundreds of usernames associated with each person. That's a lot of overhead when searching or cross-referencing and a lot of false positives when looking for those usernames on the net.

The only way this could work even in theory would be for there to be some kind of mandatory, permanent, unchangeable net-identity infrastructure which could be tagged to forum postings, e-mails and social networking sites. But there isn't. And if there were, how are you going to possibly enforce it and what makes you think that it's worth losing the anonymity of the net for something so infrequent and unlikely as a kid getting abducted?

And with all due respect to your children, I'm not (and I suspect everyone else isn't) giving up my cherished net anonymity on the merest off-chance that it might reduce the chance of a child being groomed for abuse on-line because their parents haven't done a good enough job of teaching them proper, safe online behaviour.

I don't think anyone's against the idea of making paedophiles easier to track or bar from sites frequented by minors, and everyone wants kids to be able to play safely. But if the only way to do it is to make every human being on the net trackable in the same way, you can fuck right off.

Not aimed at you personally, but in general:

Your "right" to leave your kids unsupervised and have nothing bad happen to them does not trump my right to privacy.

Or, more generally:

Don't infringe my rights because you can't be bothered to perform your duties.

End of argument.

We beat 'em to it! (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905518)

Umm. Yay? [bizjournals.com]

I'm not saying the intent is bad. But it's an enormous waste of money in my opinion.

Re:We beat 'em to it! (1)

brewstate (1018558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905566)

All those who intend to do bad or harm please sign here and give us your name and address so that we may arrest you after you have done said bad or harm. Cheers.

Debunked (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905908)

Thoroughly debunked (even shows why it's bad) at http://nsona.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] (No Sex Offenders Need Apply).

Hmm, ok. (5, Insightful)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905554)

So who is going to be the first person to explain how free email web sites such as yahoo, hotmail, etc and new screen names can be gotten anonymously (for the most part) and can change daily, hourly or however fast you want to fill out the forms?

Re:Hmm, ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905742)

More importantly, who is going to tell them that 3/5 sex offenders use the nickname "Neo"? There's just no way to distinguish..

Re:Hmm, ok. (3, Informative)

wodon (563966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905924)

So who is going to be the first person to explain how free email web sites such as yahoo, hotmail, etc and new screen names can be gotten anonymously (for the most part) and can change daily, hourly or however fast you want to fill out the forms?
That is a good point, and the first thing I thought when I heard this on the radio this morning too.
What it doesn't say is that they plan to make it compulsory for sex offenders to register any email addresses they use in the same way they must register street addresses and aliases. That way they can be charged with using a new email address even if they aren't caught doing sex offendery things.

The idea is ok, just terribly thought through. how can they police it? Especially as at present they don't have the regular address and alias details for a large portion of the sex offenders register. How about they start by working out where they all live!

I am all for protecting the public, but let's not go spending millions of public pounds because the Daily Mail has another hissy fit.

Re:Hmm, ok. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906246)

how can they police it? Especially as at present they don't have the regular address and alias details for a large portion of the sex offenders register. How about they start by working out where they all live!
They don't need to police it. They just need to show someone is violating the law so they can stepup surveilanc of the internet. And i seriously doubt this has anything to do with certain offenders.

If they find someone who is commiting a crime, made a political statment contrary to the popular support or anythig at all, they just monitor thier internet usage and pop them for visiting hotmail and not registering the address. This will let them track down who is involved with the ring of criminals your associated with requireing them to monitor their access. Pretty soon, there is a nexus of who knows who and what they do. Step out of line in anyway and something will come back to bite you. This isn't about anything other then gettign dirt on someone.

Rite now, there are some ways to find who is behind what screen name and so on. The problem it that they need to get some orders and jump through hoops to do so but the benifit is to protect the privacy of the user. Now, privacy is the reason top get it and boomb, it sucks to be in an opresive regime.

Re:Hmm, ok. (3, Insightful)

Sirch (82595) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906306)

What noone seems to have pointed out yet is that if they are caught breaking this proposed law by the police, they can be punished - without having to prove intent to molest etc.

This is like making it illegal for convicted murderers to buy a knife - catch them doing it - receipts, CCTV, standard surveillance, and you can send them away without needing to prove they were going to try to stab someone.

(OK, OK, flawed analogy, but it serves its purpose).

I wonder.. (4, Funny)

works (995530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905570)

What kind of spam you will get after registering.

Re:I wonder.. (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905768)

Two free tickets to the Royal Policemen Ball for reporting your neighbor's criminal activities.

actually... (0, Flamebait)

bcb2114 (1060614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905576)

if it were feasible (which it isn't) this might be a good idea. Sure we should in general be free to do what we please online, but that freedom rests on an implied right to safety. Rapists forfeit their online freedom and in the currently unregulated system they undermine our online rights. Good for the Brits for trying to make the web safe for everyone.

Re:actually... (5, Informative)

nickname225 (840560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905708)

I am an attorney and I work in the law enforcement area. The value of a law like this is not actually to track the offenders. It's real value is to use as an additional charge once a violator has been caught. It keep the real habitual offenders in jail longer and makes plea bargaining result in longer terms. I'm not saying it's a good plan - just that the fact that offenders won't register is not really a flaw in the plan.

Interesting. (2, Insightful)

arevos (659374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906102)

The value of a law like this is not actually to track the offenders. It's real value is to use as an additional charge once a violator has been caught. It keep the real habitual offenders in jail longer and makes plea bargaining result in longer terms.

An interesting perspective on it. One would also imagine that the good press such a law would generate for the politician proposing it would also be a factor.

Re:actually... (3, Interesting)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905738)

if it were feasible (which it isn't) this might be a good idea. Sure we should in general be free to do what we please online, but that freedom rests on an implied right to safety.
"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Rapists forfeit their online freedom
Nope, under this proposal, everybody would forfeit their online freedom. The spectre of rapists is only dangled in front of the voting populace to conveniently switch off their brains. Fortunately, sometimes sanity prevails in the end [wikipedia.org] .

Re:actually... (1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905902)

The key word you're missing in your oft wrongly quoted cliche is "essential". With out that very important key word (and good ol Ben was a smart man, who chose his words carefully) that same argument could be used against EVERYTHING.

Prisons?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Federal Government?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Local government?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Contract law?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Health laws?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Emmisions regulations?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Gun control?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Kyoto?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

The US Constitution?

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"

Re:actually... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906190)

The key word you're missing in your oft wrongly quoted cliche is "essential". With out that very important key word (and good ol Ben was a smart man, who chose his words carefully) that same argument could be used against EVERYTHING.
...
Gun control?
...
Actually, the drafters of the constitution considered freedom of expression so essential that they made it the first amendment, even more essential than the second which you quoted.

Of course, the second amendment is useful too, so that we can defend the first, if needed ;-)

Re:actually... (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905948)

Nope, under this proposal, everybody would forfeit their online freedom. The spectre of rapists is only dangled in front of the voting populace to conveniently switch off their brains. Fortunately, sometimes sanity prevails in the end. [wikipedia.org]

Or maybe you're committing the slippery slope [wikipedia.org] fallacy.

Re:actually... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906134)

Or maybe you're committing the slippery slope [wikipedia.org] fallacy.
Care to elaborate how exactly that applies to my comment?

Re:actually... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906154)

Sure we should in general be free to do what we please online, but that freedom rests on an implied right to safety.
Who exactly implied you have any right to safety online, and how many bridges did you buy from them?

oh no no no (5, Funny)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905578)

my name is M0lester... not MOlester

Re:oh no no no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905722)

Really in to moles then, eh? Well, whatever floats your boat, Mole-ster

BAM ON THE GROUND NOW! (3, Funny)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905850)

Oh... sorry... we were looking for 1HotLuv99874... We didn't realize you were 1HotLuv9874. Our bad...

Yeah.. uh... just contact city services to fix the door for you...

Re:oh no no no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905860)

I see you've opened a day care! [molestationursery.com]

Wouldn't it be easier... (1, Insightful)

measured_flo (799013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905590)

To make sure sex offenders do not have computers, or access to computers?

Re:Wouldn't it be easier... (4, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905896)

Wouldn't it be easier...

To make sure sex offenders do not have computers, or access to computers?
But even easier to just put them in jail together and then leave them there.

Re:Wouldn't it be easier... (2, Insightful)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906238)

Might be, but unless the original crimes were perpetrated online, I don't think it's at all fair. Criminals they may be, and of a particularly nefarious sort, but they still have rights, and restricting those rights as a safety measure is reasonable, but should be applied in moderation

If this sounds like too much protection of a sex offender's rights, think banning a murderer from buying knives because they are a popular murder weapon. Computers today are WAY too much of a general-purpose tool to go banning people from using them without good reason.

Trusting... (2, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905610)

When I first saw this story, I thought the intention was that *everyone* register their screen names -- an unpardonable invasion of privacy, and clearly unenforcable, yet something I could imagine an Internet-ignorant politician might just propose.

But it turns out that it only applies to people on the Sex Offenders Register, which isn't quite as bad. There's some precedent for "you break the law once, you sacrifice some of your rights".

So I no longer see it as such a terrible invasion of privacy. But it does seem about as unworkable as asking burglars, upon release from prison, to call the local police station with a time and address before attempting any further burglaries.

Re:Trusting... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905934)

"So I no longer see it as such a terrible invasion of privacy."

Really? It sets a precedent though doesnt it? Thats how these things start. When you break the law, yep you should serve your punishment indeed, but remember that 'protecting the children' is one of the main tools that politicians use for ulterior purposes.
Want to read some more about reid? http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/intelwhispers/int elmain.php [waynemadsenreport.com]

Fox guarding the hen-house come to mind?

Re:Trusting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906100)

btw, I didnt mean to suggest that reid is a suspect pedo, just that these apparently useless asinine solutions dont really solve the problem, but seem to end up taking away freedoms from innocent people.

Re:Trusting... (1)

AndyG314 (760442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906122)

When I first saw this story, I thought the intention was that *everyone* register their screen names -- an unpardonable invasion of privacy, and clearly unenforcable, yet something I could imagine an Internet-ignorant politician might just propose.
I find frequently that slashdot posts will give that sort of impression if read quickly...

Re:Trusting... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906186)

There's some precedent for "you break the law once, you sacrifice some of your rights".
I wonder how that works in England.

On the other side of the pond, ex-felons can't buy guns & have to do some paperwork to get their voting rights re-established... That's pretty much it. Everything else is social stigma.

Re:Trusting... (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906262)

But there is *a lot* of social stigma! :)

Re:Trusting... (1)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906242)

But it turns out that it only applies to people on the Sex Offenders Register, which isn't quite as bad. There's some precedent for "you break the law once, you sacrifice some of your rights".


Given the ease of changing your screen name, they know registering one particular online group is futile. How long until they make the leap to registering everyone who "goes online"? Maybe you'll need an "internet license" like a drivers license to log on. Make ISPs the traffic cops of the net, maybe?

Oh yea that's smart... (1)

DanQuixote (945427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905618)

because I NEVER use an alternate handle, and being the LAW ABIDING citizen that I am, I ALWAYS tell the cops everything I'm doing!

Re:Oh yea that's smart... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906056)

It just gives the police another thing to charge them with if they do catch them.

John Reid = Plonker (4, Informative)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905642)

John Reid is a bloody idiot, and he is subordinate to the tabloids. He pumps out hair-brained schemes like this, that are frankly embarassing.

We need to find a way to stop politicians (and tabloids) interfering with this country, because in general the UK functions very well without their accursed meddling!

Re:John Reid = Plonker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905752)

John Reid is a bloody idiot, and he is subordinate to the tabloids. He pumps out hair-brained schemes like this, that are frankly embarassing.

Is there any NuLabour Home Secretary who dosn't qualify for the "bloody idiot" award?

Re:John Reid = Plonker (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906126)

Robin Cook was quite decent I think....dunno if he counted as "NuLabour" though

Your post is nonsense (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905852)

I think the House of Lords should be replaced by the editorial board of the Sun, and the House of Commons should be replaced by the editorial board of the Mirror.

Re:John Reid = Plonker (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906026)

Exactly, the home office should concentrate on doing its current job properly without wasting time thinking up nonsense like this. They can't even track down or keep tabs on people when they know there real names addresses so the concept that they'll be able to monitor the thousands of people forced to register "screen names" is simply laughable.

Perhaps it was an error on the reports part but when I heard about this on the radio this morning it was described thus:

"Sex offenders will register their screen names allowing Police to monitor their e-mail and any activity in chat rooms they may undertake on-line"

Obviously we all know that there is no connection whatsoever between peoples e-mail addresses and the names they use in chat rooms, indeed the name you use in one chat room maybe entirely different to the one you use in another chatroom and neither of these types of names need be connected at all to the name you use for instant messaging - etc.

It's interesting that the areas which experience the most political attention; schools, the NHS, the Police all think they would be a lot better off without the attention the government lavishes on them. Every government when elected is of the view that Education, Law Enforcement and Healthcare have been broken by the previous government and then proceed to not so much plan for the success of these organisations as to plan how make it look as though they are making big and important changes which will sort things out. All these organisations would benefit from being managed with a longer term viewpoint than the next election and should be managed independantly from the government.

The home office and John Reid at the moment are a complete joke, I wouldn't trust them to do anything effectively at this point.

Re:John Reid = Plonker (3, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906130)

We need to find a way to stop politicians [...] interfering with this country

It's called the House of Lords [wikipedia.org] . When the House of Commons tries to do something especially daft, it's possible for the House of Lords to stop or delay them.

Re:John Reid = Plonker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906198)

"accursed meddling..."

Please go back to your roleplaying server.

Sounds Good (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905674)

Why would this be a bad thing? I doubt that it is even possible, but the anonymity of the internet is basically the only thing that takes away its credibility. Internet security would be much easier, and internet commerce could become even more accepted and prevelant.

You cannot just say whatever you want in a newspaper or in a public forum without people knowing who you are. Why should you be able to do it on the internet?

--

Re:Sounds Good (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905776)

I know I would be more accepting of commerce over the internet with convicted sex offenders if only they were registered.

Re:Sounds Good (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905778)

Why would this be a bad thing? I doubt that it is even possible

Then how much of your tax dollars are you willing to spend trying? If it's not possible, then why is throwing the government and money at the problem a good thing?

Re:Sounds Good (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905810)

>You cannot just say whatever you want in a newspaper or in a public forum without people knowing who you are.

"Name witheld by request"
"A source who asked to be anonymous"
Anyone handing out pamphlets on the street corner
The authors of the Federalist Papers.

Re:Sounds Good (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906012)

Why would this be a bad thing? I doubt that it is even possible,

Because the "trying" wastes a lot of money which could be used for something worthwhile. e.g. Actual law enforcement.

You cannot just say whatever you want in a newspaper or in a public forum without people knowing who you are.

Newspapers certainly publish articles and letters with names and addresses withheld. Even when they public a name and town/city you'd often have to work hard to identify the person concerned. Also people speaking in public rarely give their home address out...
The whole concept of "identity" can be quite complex. Often with people having multiple identities which don't always overlap. Someone in a public forum could be "That woman who always goes on about XYZ topic". Or someone's identity could be "The man who always buys a daily paper at a certain newsagents". You even have commuters who would recognise each other by sight, but have never spoken to each other.

UK... China... ? (1, Troll)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905690)

Is anyone else starting to confuse the UK and China? B/c there "legal" systems are starting to look awfully similar.

Re:UK... China... ? (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906052)

Oh, did the UK start using Mobile Execution Vans [amnesty.org] to eliminate dissidents? No? Just had a harebrained idea of how to deal with convicted sex offenders ?
I fail to see the similarities.

Re:UK... China... ? (1)

Mindwarp (15738) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906072)

Please don't confuse a "totalitarian regime" with a "sadly out of touch and misinformed politician with a track record of spouting whatever tripe will get him the most coverage in the tabloids."

There's plenty going on in the U.K. that I disagree with these days, but this moron is the least of our worries.

Re:UK... China... ? (1)

euri.ca (984408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906124)

In China's defense, they only ever asked me to register my website.

Although you do have to write *a name* down when you use an internet cafe. I think it's supposed to be your name, and they are supposed to check ID, but I'm not sure, it never happened

Re:UK... China... ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906250)

This type of comment is why you are called a troll [slashdot.org] . A stupid attempt to track convicted criminals doesn't turn a country into a totalitarian regime. You're being wilfully stupid in an attempt to get people outraged. In other words, trolling. The only way this comment wouldn't be a troll is if you were being unintentionally dumb as fuck. So which is it? Are you just pretending to be a fuckwit or are you the real deal?

No problem (-1, Redundant)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905692)

I'll register riksweeney@yahoo.co.uk and then change my address to rik_sweeney@yahoo.co.uk next week, rik-sweeney@yahoo.co.uk the week after that and riksweeney29@yahoo.co.uk the week after that...

Re:No problem (1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906042)

The point of the law (like most laws) is not to prevent the crime in the first place, but for establishing reason to punish after the crime has been comitted. Consider:

Joe Rapist is convicted, jailed and then released on parole.

As part of his release, he is required to register with the sex offender database, check in with his parole officer and register his online identities.

Now instead, Joe Rapist goes and rapes Mary Sue Victim.

With the laws in place, now Joe Rapist faces charges not only for the rape, but for failure to register with the database (twice) and failure to check in with his parole officer. All of a sudden, the prosecution can paint him as a severe danger to society has he clearly has no respect for any of the laws of the land, regardless of how small.

It's all ammunition to use against repeat offenders.

I don't suggest that the law is a good one or well thought out, but comments like yours miss the point entirely and actualy just fuel the false sense of security such a law would provide by framing the argument around security rather than punishment.

Re:No problem (1)

armomurha (1056282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906180)

...they are still reading your comments on /.

i think that's going to be the second big impact (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905714)

of the internet

we're all witnessing how the birth of a powerful new medium is changing human society

the first big impact of course is the absolute nullification of copyright laws: if you can point and click and disseminate millions of copies of books/ movies/ music with zero effort, copyright is for all practical purposes a dead concept

the second big impact is the new mercuriality of identity. you don't know who someone is, where they are from, their sex, how old they are, etc., and yet you can form lasting bonds with such people on line. of course this bs about registering online ids is bullshit: the person who proposes the idea is using pre-internet thinking about the solidity of someone's identity. on the internet, identity is as interchangeable as ties on a tie rack. much like some still cling to the newly antiquated notion of copyright law, some people still cling to the idea that people's identities are solid online

all sort of implications in human social contact, all revolving around the idea of trust, will be affected. from online banking, dating, online gaming, etc

i think it will eventually change human identity itself. i see in a few years the emergence of people who identify with their online identities more than their real life identities

all sorts of psychological and social consequences will result when personal identity itself is smudged by the internet

Re:i think that's going to be the second big impac (1)

grondak (80002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906114)

I think you're right. I was thinking about some of my online gaming friends. They are without real names, genders, or physical bodies-- to me-- but they /are/ a collection of ideas, opinions, emotions, and interactions.

Those aren't the only things that count, but we are rapidly seeing the changes that prove those characteristics are the only requirements for discourse. I don't need my online friend's visage to miss discourse with him when he's gone. Reminds me of online funerals for deceased-in-Real-Life gamers.

stupid, unimplementable, and unenforcable (0)

poopie (35416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905724)

While every techno-illiterate parent may be jumping up and down saying, "oh yes! Keep the sex offenders off the internet!"

What is being suggested here isn't really possible or desirable.

If you ever delete your cookies files, If you ever blocked ads, If you ever used an internet kiosk, If you ever have had the desire to surf the web anonymously, If you ever used PGP or put a password on an archive file, then you are against this type of thinking and need to be very concerned about where internet legislation is going and what it means to your privacy.

That being said... how in the world would anyone stop someone from joining an IRC channel and typing "/nick FriendlyKoolKid16"? How is anyone going to stop someone from registering for webmail and IM accounts?

I'm no criminal, yet I certainly wouldn't be willing to register any nicks I might use on IRC with the police. Neither would I willingly provide or want any companies to provide any information about my IM accounts to the police.

As a matter of fact, if I found out that AIM, MSN, Google, Yahoo! would capitulate to authorities and turn over information on me based solely on some suspicion that they might need access to my IM logs, I'd re-register at all of them with completely bogus information and single use mail accounts.

I'm not worried (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905730)


I don't think that increased information gathering by the UK authorities is much of a problem, given that their actual will and ability to punish/discourage/reform criminals are pretty well zero anyway. What are they going to do to anyone they catch? 'Interview them under caution'? I don't see much point in prosecuting them for rape, given the conviction rate and sentences involved.

The thing is that UK police have so little power, compared to most countries, to prevent or punish crime that when it wants to look like it's taking crime seriously the government tends to do it by increasing their power to survey the populace in general.

Actual public order (I only know London, maybe the rest of the UK is like a Beatrix Potter book or something) is maintained primarily by ever-increasing use of gated communities, as near as I can tell. Of course, not everyone gets to live entirely in a gated community. This is how come regular as clockwork the local kids sweep by the cafe round the corner and take the chairs and knock stuff over and there isn't a thing you can do except find where they threw the chairs, and replace the broken stuff. It's a totally bizarre system (and it sucks if you are running a Korean cafe in what is now no longer a Korean area) but I hesitate to conclude that it doesn't work. As cities go, people rarely get shot, or beaten senseless in a police station, or seriously maimed provided they avoid obvious trouble.

So, sure, they have a lot of cameras and databases compared to the law enforcement of other nations. But the whole system is checked-and-balanced by a mix of denial and apathy to the point where I really don't see that it makes any difference.

Or to put it another way, I'd rather the UK police knew EVERYTHING about me than have the French police know ANYTHING about me :)

What's the Real Story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905732)

According to the article, Beavan and two others were discussing a plan to abuse two girls.

Beavan goes to the police, in person, and tells them about it.

The article says Beavan gets 11 years, while the other two get 8 years? WTF? How can the guy who actually went to the police get a longer term then the other two?

Re:What's the Real Story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905916)

No one likes a tattler.

Failure of Justice (0, Troll)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905750)

What really bugs me is that of the three men they arrested, one of them, David Beavan, was a vigilante trying to stop child abuse who told the police about the plot. This man was also sentanced to 8 years for conspiracy to commit rape. I have no problem with them arresting him for some other charge- what he was doing was questionable, and I'm sure violates laws about entrapment, child porn distribution, etc. I think it's pretty clear, though, that he wasn't going to rape little girls like the others were planning to.

Re:Failure of Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906068)

so the message to the pedos intending to commit a crime is - even though you think it is wrong don't confess - go ahead and commit the crime and keep quiet.

Pehaps they took this into account but decided against it as the reality is likely alot less of a problem than the media would have u believe?

Welcome the the UK home of senile injustice.

Re:Failure of Justice (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906136)

What really bugs me is that of the three men they arrested, one of them, David Beavan, was a vigilante trying to stop child abuse who told the police about the plot.

Being a vigilante can be rather dangerous.

This man was also sentanced to 8 years for conspiracy to commit rape.

You need to be an undercover police office to get a "get out of jail free card" when it comes to conspiring with criminals.

have no problem with them arresting him for some other charge- what he was doing was questionable, and I'm sure violates laws about entrapment, child porn distribution, etc. I think it's pretty clear, though, that he wasn't going to rape little girls like the others were planning to.

Obviously the jury were not convinced.

Re:Failure of Justice (1)

EEDAm (808004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906182)

"What really bugs me is that of the three men they arrested, one of them, David Beavan, was a vigilante trying to stop child abuse who told the police about the plot. This man was also sentanced to 8 years for conspiracy to commit rape. I have no problem with them arresting him for some other charge- what he was doing was questionable, and I'm sure violates laws about entrapment, child porn distribution, etc. I think it's pretty clear, though, that he wasn't going to rape little girls like the others were planning to."

No that's not correct. That is what his defence was. However the police and jury didn't believe him, rather probably not least because as the judge said ""All three of you were found to be in possession of very many photographs of children, some of them ... very shocking." i.e. Beavan had them on his home PC - not at all compatible with being a mere vigilante trying to set up others. For this reason, Beavan got ELEVEN years, and the others eight. He was a paedo who lost his nerve and went to the police. Best to RTFCT (Read The (ahem)*Factual* Court Transcript)......

Police enforce laws not justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906278)

The justice system is full of bureaucrats who mechanically enforce laws in such a way as to minimize their own personal liabilities and protect their jobs. If this means people get convicted of things they didn't do, so be it. So long as their actions are legal and procedurally correct they really don't care if what they do has any relationship to reality. Justice isn't even a part of the equation. Police care about laws not justice. I doubt if most cops could even define what the word justice means.

Knee Jerk Reaction from both sides (0, Troll)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905754)

Well, this is not that much of a bad idea.

Infact, Virginia will pass a legislation (or has passed already) that will do the same thing and the state SOR will need to be updated so that "Email / IM and other Communication Names" will need to be registered with law enforcement and specifically through SOR.

What this enables law enforcement to do is if they do come across a perp using another scree name, email whatever that is not registered with law enforcement, they have all the reason to charge him, for violation. And believe me, they wont have much of a leg to stand on, owing to how easy it will be to inform law enforcement on a change of IM/email ids.

I am ok with scum like these enjoying a subset of our rights as a result of this. And I am sure a lot of people are, as well.

Re:Knee Jerk Reaction from both sides (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905918)

I am ok with scum like these enjoying a subset of our rights as a result of this.

      Because once a con, always a con, right? Why bother let this "scum" out of jail at all? I mean, they're just going to offend again - so let's make sure all their neighbors know what they did, let's make sure they'll never be able to get a decent job, oh and lets take away their right to change email adresses once in a while without notifying the authorities... /sarcasm

that's a mighty big if (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905756)

If online screen names were the same as real names, or if they could be made so for some subset of the population
(i.e., people who would want to hide their identities for the wrong reasons) then this would make sense. But they're not.



Detterance seems like the right approach here: there's no way to prevent people from misbehaving, but you can make it costly.
So let's say: go ahead and choose any screen name you want. If you use a fictitious screen name in a way related to a crime,
then some extra penalty gets added in, no questions asked, no appeal.

More laws, less justice (0)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905856)

All of these rules and bullshit laws would not be necessary were it not for things like this [barking-moonbat.com] . A child molester got off and had to buy a bike for a 6 year old he molested! WTF?! The real problem is that you have mindless, liberal judges who go "poor child molester" or "poor murderer" and let them off with a slap on the wrist for a crime that has traumatized someone or left them broken/dead. Laws like this should be opposed on principle. We don't need them. You rape a little kid, you deserve life in prison. Texas, ironically, is the only sane part of the Western world on this. They are discussing giving 25 years mandatory for the first offense, life or execution for the second. No registered emails, no complicated slaps on the wrist. You rape a little kid, you're doing hard time where you can't get to another little kid. The reality is that the systems in both America and Britain are wildly detached from reality. Too often judges sympathize with violent criminals, and IMO, that makes them culpable for the victimization of the next person.

Re:More laws, less justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17906302)

They are discussing giving 25 years mandatory for the first offense, life or execution for the second.

Little Suzie said Mr. Smith touched her private area. Kill Mr. Smith immediately! [Mr. Smith is beaten to death by Nancy Grace fans] Oh, it wasn't Mr. Smith? Ah, who cares, he probably did something wrong.

Bobby, the 21-year old college student, slept with a 16 year old neighbor girl. Kill Bobby immediately! What kind of warped pervert would sleep with an innocent 16 year old girl?

The law is black and white. No more judicial discretion. More torches, more pitchforks!

the 2 paths to signing new laws? (3, Insightful)

British (51765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905862)

So we(or ie they, the UK) are giving up liberty for either reasons of:

1. Terrorism
2. Sex Offenders

So that's it, huh? One is getting to be annoying, the other is 100% laughable. Call me closed-minded, but we're paying waaay too much attention to "sex offenders", especially when being considered a sex offender is so broad, taking a leak at 3am in public when drunk would get you on the list.

We need that V guy sooner than later.

Why stop with sex offenders? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905866)

Why dont they demand all criminals to register their names? And why stop with registering their screen names, why cant we pass a law demanding that all criminals to give adequate notice of their intent to burgle homes, mug pedestrians and hold up banks? Imagine the teller saying, "No Mr McFly, you have not issued prior notification of your plan to rob this bank. You might have, but you how it is with paper work. So please come tomorrow to rob us." Or handing the money over in a fast, efficient and safe manner to the robbers so that rest of the customers are not inconvenienced or endangered in anyway.

Way to go Britain. We all will follow you. You lead the way.

Were they already on the registry? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905872)

The FA doesn't say if these two men were already on the Sex Offenders Register, but in any case, how would requiring offenders to register their screen names prevent people NOT on the Sex Offenders Register (i.e., not previously caught) from preying on people?

Of course this approach in unworkable as unverified online accounts are as easy to get as air, but suffering the lack of logic has never been a problem for a government...

Not to incite a flamewar, and I know the recidivism rate among sex offenders is high, but supposing a previously convicted offender has done his/her time and paid his/her dues, and is behaving appropriately, at what point do they deserve to NOT be treated like a criminal?

Following them around and requiring them to "register" everything, everywhere for the rest of their lives seems wrong. The mantra "Think of the Children" should have some limits...

Is this the registration office? (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905890)

I was told I need to register my username? It's spelled N-A-M-B-L-A. What? It's taken? Damn ....

Let's jail Levy, Turner and Blair first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17905904)

What's that Reid? No room in jails you say? If Reid didn't spend time engaging in this kind of stupidity, he might find more time to do his fucking job! The man has no place thinking of the children if rational thought eludes him.

When is someone sex offender going to register "Anonymous Coward" as a screen name? Hilarity ensues.

Not the smartest of would-be molesters (1)

BendingSpoons (997813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905926)

Jurors heard how the men, who had never met, came across each other in an incest chatroom.
God bless the internet for letting hobbyists meet like-minded hobbyists. But haven't these upstanding citizens realized that that pervy-old-man-chat.com and such are filled with law enforcement guys? And that they probably shouldn't spell out the details of their plot in a public "incest chat"?

In unrelated news, can we get a summary slightly more neutral than "just how misguided is this"?

Better than Megan's law (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905940)

After all, this would only get sex offenders lynched by neighbors in Second Life. This law will not stop anyone from registering a fake name. But if someone is found acting suspiciously online, and that someone turns out to be an anonymous sex offender, he can be prosecuted without having to prove every conversation that took place. Chances are, he was about to look for more victims, since he obviously no longer minds breaking the law.

The real problems to be concerned about are:
  • People being branded as sex offenders too easily, say for mooning in a public place
  • This registration being extended to pot smokers, traffic violators and yes regular law abiding citizens
  • And most of all, the actual Megan law. If someone served their time, they should get a crack at being normal citizens with friends and no threat of violence.

Not terribly misguided? (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905954)

This isn't really a YRO issue. Felons having reduced rights is a long-standing tradition, and I for one wouldn't care to give it up. There are some obivous attack avenues we need to watch (like making sure that laws don't get written that make everyone felons; this is not an exhaustive list), but the principle is sound.

In a US context, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the low bar of "sex offender", but all in all, this isn't much different than the other things sex offenders are already obligated to do, and it's already the offender's responsibility to do things like update their address, so even complaints that this isn't perfectly enforceable are pretty silly.

Besides, when did perfect enforceability become some sort of golden standard for the viability of a law? Can you draw a distinction between this unenforceable law, and the even-more unenforceable laws against murder?

(And how many people complaining about how this isn't perfectly enforceable would turn right around and bitch even louder if laws actually were perfectly enforceable? Nigh unto 100%, I'd guess.)

We have guys like this in the United States . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17905974)

...where Hedgcock told Beavan he wanted to abuse two sisters, aged 13 and 14.

Beavan said he was interested in the plan...

...the men were arrested after Beavan walked into Bournemouth police station and told officers what was going on...

And from a related article here: [bbc.co.uk]

Surveillance began after Beavan went to Bournemouth police with a DVD containing information from chat logs...

This guy sounds a lot like Stone Phillips (without the newscrew, of course). So . . . is this guy really a vigilante, or is he just a perv who got cold feet?

How long before this info is publicly available? (1)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906294)

Another poster pointed out [slashdot.org] that erstwhile "maverick" McCain has sponsored a similar bill in the US Congress. My question is, do these bills have any regulations regarding the release of this information to the general public? Or will they tacitly authorize spammers, script-kiddies and soccer-moms to go whole-hog on this particular group of untouchables?

How are they going to manage this... (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17906300)

...if they can't even keep track [telegraph.co.uk] of where registered sex offenders live?

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