Carly Ryan’s killer had only just begun his life sentence when a person stopped me in the street to ask: “what’s so wrong with lying about your age on the internet?”
It was January 2010. Garry Francis Newman – a balding, overweight paedophile – had been found guilty of Miss Ryan’s 2007 murder. Jurors had been rightly disgusted by the months Newman spent masquerading, online, as a 20-year-old “emo guitarist” named Brandon Kane to win the teenager’s trust and love. Equally appalled, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon had proposed what I’d considered inarguably sensible new legislation. He wanted an eight-year jail term for those who lie about their age, online, to a child. He called it “Carly’s Law”.
“What’s so wrong with lying about your age on the internet?” the passerby asked. There was, they said, no rule requiring you “be yourself” online. And besides, we already had “plenty” of laws police could use to catch paedophiles.
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