TRENTON – Two bills sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex which will crack down on Internet predators and increase safety precautions on the World Wide Web were signed into law over the weekend by Governor Corzine.
“There’s no question that the home computer has changed so many aspects of our daily lives,” said Senate President Codey. “What many computer users don’t know, however, is that danger can be just a mouse-click away, in the form of a sexual predator seeking to ensnare their his or her victim. Now, in New Jersey we have much stronger protections against being lured by a predator – and much stronger penalties against those who would use the Internet to further their own sick agendas.”
Bill S-1977, known as the “Internet Dating Safety Act” will require online dating websites to take more responsibility in fostering safe practices. The sites will be required to clearly post whether or not they provide online background checks of all participants. The new law also requires online dating websites to post a list of safety awareness tips.
“Internet dating companies bear a responsibility to their customers to provide basic screening to weed out threatening individuals,” said Codey. “At the very least, Internet daters should at least know whether or not their chosen Web service provides such screening. This will open a lot of people’s eyes to the dangerous aspects of Internet dating.”
The other new law, S-1978, will impose mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for anyone with a history of unlawful sexual contact who attempts to lure or entice a child or adult by use of a computer.
Under the law, a person with a previous conviction for sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact or endangering the welfare of a child who is convicted of luring or enticing a child will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of five years, during which the person will not be eligible for parole. The bill will establish, for the first time, a mandatory minimum of three years without the eligibility of parole for those who lure an adult.
“The Internet provides so much anonymity that it has become the weapon of choice for modern-day sexual predators,” said Codey. “Our legal code needs to adapt with the times, and we need a tough penalty structure to protect New Jersey’s residents from harm. We’ve got to stop these creeps from stalking and attempting to entice children and adults with the use of computers.”
Both bills received final legislative approval last week.