The recent proposal to force all social networking sites to ban specific email addresses from setting up or maintaining a presence is inane. Of course I support the idea of monitoring the behaviour of convicted sex offenders, and of course I want to protect the interests of our children, but banning an email address is about as effective in preventing participation with a social networking site as catching water with a sieve. Yes, you might prevent one email address being used on a social networking site, but that will not prevent any offender from simply starting a new email account and using that for his/her participation with a system. Further, if a conviction is appealed and overturned, does the state really expect social networking sites to suddenly ‘whitelist’ all those who were previously ‘blacklisted’? And what about offenders from different jurisdictions? How do you keep track of all these potential users?
The recommended proposals may be laudable in terms of effort in protecting the community, but they are going to be costly and fairly pointless in real terms. And that, ultimately, is more wasteful and less helpful for tax payers than being educated about appropriate behaviour online. This is all about fixing the symptoms of the problems, not the cause.