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Phuket Gazette: Dating websites join to ban sexual predators

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Dating websites will now be checking sex offender registries
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: Leading online dating companies Match.com, eHarmony and the operator of the websites ChristianMingle and JDate have signed an agreement to check their subscribers against U.S. sex offender registries, the companies announced yesterday.

The three-page agreement between California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the three companies states that the providers will attempt to identify sexual predators, including through the use of sex offender registries when they have the information required to conduct such checks.

The agreement recognizes that such screening tools have limitations which impact their efficacy, and the websites will therefore also use other tools and technologies to protect their members and identify fake profiles.

“When identified, [the providers will] remove registered sexual predators from participating in fee-based services on their sites,” the agreement said.

Harris welcomed the agreement, which also calls for the sites to provide its members with safety tips and a rapid abuse reporting system through which members can notify the provider and investigators of potential physical safety issues, fraud, or other suspected criminal activity.

“Consumers should be able to use websites without the fear of being scammed or targeted,” said Harris, whose office established an eCrime Unit last year to prosecute crimes involving the use of technology.

“In the interest of protecting and educating users, I strongly encourage all online dating companies to adopt the same principles as these industry leaders.”

It is estimated that last year approximately 40 million Americans used an online dating service and spent more than $1 billion on online dating website memberships. Of couples married in the last three years, one in six met through an online dating service, and one in five people have dated someone they met through an online dating site.

Match.com, one of the best known dating sites, had already announced a year ago that it would begin checking its existing and new subscribers against sex offender registries. It followed a civil lawsuit filed by a California woman who claimed that she was sexually assaulted by one of its members.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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