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Andrew Cuomo seeks more restrictions on sex offenders online

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Westbury in November.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Westbury in November. Credit: Howard Schnapp

ALBANY — Sex offenders who use social media, dating sites and interactive video games would face new restrictions under a proposal released Sunday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Another Cuomo measure would ban the so-called “pink tax” — higher prices for products such as razors and dry cleaning services that are marketed to or serve women.

The sex offender bill seeks to update the state Sex Offender Registration Act passed in 1995, to further restrict sex offenders’ activity on social media, online dating sites and cellphone apps that could be used as tools to attract victims.

The bill also would build on the 2008 E-Stop Law requiring registered sex offenders to report their online activity with the state. In 2018, the law resulted in removal of 22,000 profiles of sex offenders from social media sites, Cuomo said.

Cuomo's proposal would require registered sex offenders to disclose all their screen names for every social media account or dating, gaming or phone application in addition to their email addresses.

New York would send the information to companies that operate such sites and apps. The companies would be required to review the data and develop policies to protect other customers and users.

Cuomo’s proposal also would make it a crime for sex offenders to misrepresent themselves online.

“Our laws must keep pace with the world around us and with this measure we will help safeguard those using these websites and apps, and stop those who seek to harm and exploit our children once and for all,” Cuomo said.

There are 41,800 registered sex offenders in the state including 10,465 Level 3 offenders deemed by courts to have a “high risk of repeat offense,” according to state Division of Criminal Justice Services records updated this month.

Nassau County has 539 registered sex offenders including 72 considered to be Level 3.

Suffolk County has 1,119 registered sex offenders, including 211 classified as Level 3.

Cuomo’s plan to end the pink tax has been proposed before in the State Legislature, which could indicate a level of immediate support for the governor’s bill.

“Women shouldn't be nickeled and dimed their entire lives because of their gender — it’s discriminatory and repugnant to our values and we're putting an end to it,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo noted several studies that have shown that products including clothing, personal care and health items and toys are priced higher when marketed to women and girls.

Cuomo cited a 2015 project by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs that found 42 percent of products marketed to women cost more than comparable items aimed at men. The study found the average price difference was 7 percent.

Violation of the Cuomo measure would result in fines that haven't yet been specified.

A similar bill that included fines of $250 to $500 for each offense passed in the state Assembly late in the legislative session this year, but failed to gain approval in the Senate.

“Women have been subjected to lower class in society, at the same time they've been charged more at the store," Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said in June. "That's something we need to reverse."

The proposals are scheduled to be part of Cuomo's State of the State address to the legislature on Jan. 8.

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