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Georgia sex offender law raises privacy concerns

January 2, 2009 by  

Sex offenders in Georgia must surrender passwordsThe difficulty of balancing privacy issues with the need to protect the public has been highlighted by a new Georgia law.

Beginning on January 1st 2009, convicted sex offenders in the state are required to submit their internet passwords, screen names and email addresses to law enforcement officials.

The rule will make it easier for police to track the online activities of sex offenders and make sure they are not behaving inappropriately, said Georgia state senator Cecil Stanton, who authored the bill.

But others question if this is one measure too far. "There’s certainly a privacy concern. This essentially will give law enforcement the ability to read emails between family members, between employers," Sara Totonchi of Southern Center for Human Rights told the Associated Press.

According to the AP, at least 15 states have laws that obligate sex offenders to turn over email addresses and user names to the police, but Georgia and Utah are the only places where passwords are also included.

One criticism that has been leveled at such laws is that they are too broad, as those who have been arrested for crimes including public nudity or underage consensual sex may still be classified as sex offenders.
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