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Senators Want More Protection For Social Networks

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) want all registered sex offenders to submit their active e-mail addresses to law enforcement officials.

Under legislation to be introduced in January when the new 110th Congress convenes, any sex offender who submits a fraudulent e-mail address to authorities could face jail time.

The two senators said the bill would allow online companies such as social-networking sites to cross-check new members against a database of registered sex offenders to ensure that predators are unable to sign up for the service.

"Just like in our actual neighborhoods, sex offenders must themselves be known in our virtual neighborhoods as well," Schumer said in a joint statement with McCain. "Millions of teenagers log on to websites like MySpace and they shouldn't have to worry about running in to these predators online."

The announcement by Schumer and McCain comes just a day after MySpace said it is developing a database with Sentinel Tech that will collect the background information on 550,000 convicted sex offenders now listed in numerous individual state and federal databases.

MySpace has been subject to criticism that it does not do enough to protect minors who members of its community. Earlier this year, MySpace instituted a number of membership changes, including limiting contact between users above 18 with those under 16. The social-networking site also made it possible for users to set their profiles to private, as well as make ads more age appropriate.

Both Schumer and McCain praised MySpace's efforts.

"[The bill] highlights our interest in working with the private sector to find innovative and effective approaches to stopping the exploitation of our nation's children both online and in the offline world," McCain said.

Schumer added, "Sex offenders have no business joining social network communities -- especially those with teenage users -- and our legislation will keep them out."