California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and three of the nation’s leading online dating websites – eHarmony, Match.com, and Spark Networks – have issued a ‘JOINT STATEMENT OF KEY PRINCIPLES OF ONLINE DATING SITE SAFETY’ that online dating providers should follow to help protect members from sexual predators through background checks, the California Office of the Attorney General (OAG) announced in a press release on the OAG website. A copy of the joint agreement, which also aims to protect online dating website members from identity theft and financial scams, is available online at: http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n2647_agreement.pdf?. The agreement states that online dating companies will protect their members through the use of online safety tools that include checking members against national sex offender registries to prevent registered sex offenders from using their services. Any member who is identified as a registered sex offender will not be allowed to use these services. The joint statement also ensures that the online dating service providers have rapid abuse reporting systems, which give members access to a website, email address and/or phone number to report any suspected criminal activity, including physical safety concerns. Attorney General Harris encourages all online dating sites to adopt the same principles. However, the agreement also warns online dating website providers and members that screening sex offender registries for sexual predators is not a foolproof solution:
- While sex offender screening can be a useful safety tool, such screening tools have many limitations which impact their efficacy. However, the providers will use tools and technologies to identify sexual predators, including checking sex offender registries when the providers possess the requisite information to conduct such checks, and, when identified, remove registered sexual predators from participating in fee-based services on their websites.
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