Google, Yahoo Join Effort To Purge Sex Offenders From Web

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
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    Google, Yahoo and 11 other sites announced they will take concrete steps to help purge convicted sex offenders from their social networking sites.   

    New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the Internet firms have agreed to run the names of convicted sex offenders to see if any are linked to the sites, which would be a violation of their parole.  Despite parole laws, more than 40 percent of New York's sex offenders were believed to have social networking pages.

    "It is no secret that sexual predators abuse social networking Web sites to find and manipulate victims and to insinuate themselves into their victims' lives," Cuomo said.

    Children and teens can be targeted by sex offenders on the Internet, Cuomo said pointing to a recent upstate New York case where a 17 year old girl was victimized.

    "We are accustomed to providing safety in public spaces but how do you do it in cyberspace? This is one way," Cuomo said Thursday in announcing the latest Internet screening efforts.

    Myspace and Facebook announced earlier this month that more than 3,500 known sex offenders had been purged from their sites under New York's Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act, also known as e-STOP.

    Google, Yahoo, AOL among sited with tens of millions of users who will now participate in the program.  Cuomo said some online sites like "Friendster" are not yet participating.

    "There is no reason for them not to do this," Cuomo said. "This is a minimum of effort for a maximum of benefit."

    Cuomo said sex offenders are required to register their email addresses and screen names with the state.  The state can then turn that information over to Internet companies to help keep these offenders off sites, many used by teens.

    There are more than 600,000 registered sex offenders nationwide.