Let’s get this straight – sexual offences are abhorrent; I am in no way a defender of people who have committed sex crimes. As a psychologist, though, I’m aware that many of them are victims themselves, having been abused as children. But the Government rightly wants to clamp down on sexual offences.

But their latest “initiative” is just laughable; it clearly demonstrates, as if we needed any more evidence, that they do not understand the Internet at all. What they want is for sexual offenders to tell the authorities what their email address is. Then the authorities will contact places like Facebook and they will ban these email addresses. The idea is that it will prevent sexual offenders from preying on people online.

Apart from the fact that around 60% of all sexual offences are committed within families, the notion that you will reduce sexual crime by banning email addresses is plain nonsense. A criminal will happily give the authorities their email address and within seconds have a new one. The authorities will then ban the “official” email address while the offender carries on using another one.

“Aha”, says the Government, “we’ve thought of that”. Well tosh; they haven’t. They claim that anyone who gives a false email address will face five years in jail. But how will they find out that an offender is using a second email address? They won’t, until that person is prosecuted for any subsequent crime.

Once again, the Government is making itself a complete laughing stock when it comes to Internet policy. The problem we have is that as society is increasingly run online, we desperately need a Government that understands the world of the Internet. But there again, they’ve never understood the “real world” either.

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