January 6, 2020

Statement from Donna Rice Hughes of Enough Is Enough® on Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Legislation to Prevent Sex Offenders from Exploiting Children on Social Media, Dating Apps and Video Games

Enough Is Enough® (EIE) applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo (New York) for his proposed legislation to prevent sexual predators from using social media, dating apps and video game chat functions to exploit children. With the explosive growth of virtual communities that exist throughout multitudes of social media platforms, sex predators have easy, anonymous and unprecedented access to children in the digital world. 

Governor Cuomo’s legislation builds on New York's e-STOP law passed in 2008 requiring sex offenders to register certain online activities with the state, by requiring the disclosure of screen names for each social media account or dating/gaming app they are on to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, as opposed to just giving the email address they use for those accounts. The new legislation would also make it a crime for convicted sex offenders to misrepresent themselves online. If passed, this legislation will offer an additional barrier between sex offenders and children and could also serve as a model for other states to follow.

EIE, which has been fighting to keep children and families safer on the internet since 1994, recently called on all governors to make the issue of the prevention of sexual exploitation of children in the digital world a top priority in their state by releasing the Internet Safety Governor’s Pledge. The Pledge, which was shared among governors in all 50 states and U.S territories in an effort spearheaded by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, ensures commitment to aggressive enforcement of existing state laws and advancement of public policies protecting children from sexual exploitation including pornography laws, child pornography laws and human trafficking laws. 

Preventing the sexual exploitation of youth online requires a multi-faceted holistic strategy with a shared responsibility between the public, industry, and government. We must tackle the rampant exploitation and dangers children face on the internet head on, and Governor Cuomo’s proposed legislation is another important step in protecting children in the digital world.