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Posted by on Jul 25, 2009 in Society | 3 comments

Sex Offender iPhone App; Some Small Sanity for Sexting Teens


A couple stories on the sex offender front… TechCrunch’s MG Siegler was browsing the top 10 paid iPhone apps list today:

[T]he list appeared pretty typical: A bunch of games, a camera app, etc. Then I noticed one called Offender Locator [iTunes link], mostly because it has a creepy icon. I figured it was a game — it’s anything but. It’s an app to show you registered sex offenders living around you.

While all 50 states require that sexual offenders register themselves, and allow anyone to access the information online, most people never look at it. That’s why it’s surprising that this app is a top seller — especially considering that it’s not free (it’s $0.99). […]

But, as you might imagine, such an app is not without controversy. First of all, there’s a disclaimer when you first load it up warning that all of the information may not be accurate. The reason it gives are that the sexual offender lists are continuously updating, so some parts may be out of date or incomplete.

An even bigger problem is that the app may not be legal in all states. As someone who reviewed the app notes, “This app is not legal, at least under CA law. Selling the personal information of people (even ex-criminals) for profit is forbidden.”

And Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory finds “Sext” education for teens unlikely to be effective:

New Jersey is following in Vermont’s footsteps and considering legislation that would land kids caught “sexting” in a classroom instead of a jail cell. Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampit, who introduced the bill, thinks it’s unfair to charge teens with child pornography possession for swapping dirty self-portraits. What they really need, she says, is a lesson in the dangers of high-tech flirtation. If passed, the measure would give prosecutors discretion to send kiddies to a program where they would learn all about the potential consequences — both legal (e.g., registering as a sex offender) and personal (e.g., the whole school becomes familiar with your intimate geography).

Tracy would rather see it incorporated into ongoing sex-ed classes but concludes it’s a far preferable approach than criminalizing normal, hormonal teenagers. I certainly agree.