May 16, 2007 11:22 AM PDT

Feud between MySpace, state AGs heats up

The state attorneys general who asked MySpace.com to turn over the names of registered sex offenders who use the site aren't buying its argument that federal and state laws stand in the way.

MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam released a statement to the press Tuesday night, asserting that the social-networking site's partnership with identity verification firm Sentinel Tech Holding had resulted in the immediate deletion of any sex offenders' MySpace profiles located over the past 12 days, but that the AGs' original request is prohibited by law anyway.

"We are doing everything short of breaking the law to ensure that the information about these predators gets to the proper authorities," Nigam wrote. "A few attorneys general have asked us to turn the names of the sexual predators over to them. We are, unfortunately, prohibited by federal and state laws from doing so."

Specifically, Nigam cited the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. "The ECPA prohibits us from disclosing the information they're seeking without a subpoena," he said, "but we want to work with the attorneys general to find ways to get the information into the right hands."

Some of the AG offices declined to comment, citing the fact that MySpace's statement was directed to the press rather than to the states and could thus not be considered an official response. But others, like North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, issued statements calling MySpace's logic faulty.

"The vague reference by MySpace to federal privacy laws certainly failed to justify a complete refusal to cooperate--or insistence on a subpoena for all information," Blumenthal, who called the social networking site's actions "inexplicable and inexcusable," said in a statement Wednesday. "If MySpace wants a subpoena, we will seek one."

Cooper's statement reflected a similar opinion. "It's outrageous that MySpace chooses to protect the privacy of predators over the safety of children. We will take action to require MySpace to give law enforcement and parents the information we need to protect our kids."

MySpace did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.

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Kudos to MySpace
Quote from the article: "The vague reference by MySpace to federal privacy laws certainly failed to justify a complete refusal to cooperate--or insistence on a subpoena for all information," Blumenthal, who called the social networking site's actions "inexplicable and inexcusable," said in a statement Wednesday. "If MySpace wants a subpoena, we will seek one."

Cooper's statement reflected a similar opinion. "It's outrageous that MySpace chooses to protect the privacy of predators over the safety of children. We will take action to require MySpace to give law enforcement and parents the information we need to protect our kids."


While I certainly have no sympathies with child predators, MySpace is 100% correct: if the government wishes to obtain confidential subscriber information from *ANY* service provider, they must go through proper channels (ie, get a subpoena or other court order) first. Furthermore, how many times has MySpace asked the government to streamline the registered sex-offenders information so they could efficiently police their own network? Who was "thinking of the children" then?

Kudos to MySpace for standing up for their principles.
Posted by T38 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not really
they're just covering their butt. If they gave out information which lead to a trial without having been subpeonaed, then they could be sued.

I don't see what the big deal is with the AG's not going through the process in the first place, too lazy or something??
Posted by RJBlackKS (11 comments )
Link Flag
not really
they're just covering their butt. If they gave out information which lead to a trial without having been subpeonaed, then they could be sued.

I don't see what the big deal is with the AG's not going through the process in the first place, too lazy or something??
Posted by RJBlackKS (11 comments )
Link Flag
Stop the paranoia...address the right issues
Several things need to be taken into consideration about the idea of divulging information by instilling fear in adults worldwide.
The term pedophile gets thrown around as though it is a catch basin for every sex offender ever accused. Hate to burst the fraudulent bubble propagated by lawmakers but a pedophile is one who seeks out and is so focused on underage children that even adults do not seem nearly as appealling to them.
Not every sex offender is a pedophile!! This scare tactic spoken by those with self induced authority will only make it more difficult for those who have made an error to correct his or her cognitive thinking processes and become a productive member of society.
Myspace has done what it can in providing a safe site for people to blog one another and it is not their sole responsibility to be the sheriffs of the internet world. It is high time for parents to fill the roles of caretaker of those in their own homes and know just where their children go online and what they say when they are there. There are programs available, relatively inexpensively, to know exactly every keystroke they make.
This is not an invasion of privacy but rather a means of staying in control about when they are online until they are mature enough to make those decisions on their own.
It is already known that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of all crimes while those in the drug and burglary crimes are extremely high, however, you don't see anybody push for lists with their information on Myspace or anywhere else. WHY?? Oh, maybe because they are not sensational enough to capture the heartstrings of society like a sexual offense would. Maybe it is because every sex offender ever accused just HAS to be the next Jeffery Dahmer or Charles Manson. This, unfortunately, is exactly what the lawmakers and reporters are hoping for. They want sensationalism, they want votes, they want just that slim chance that they can stand up and shout out loud, "See, I was right, all sex offenders are bad and I know just what to do.....IF YOU VOTE FOR ME (or WATCH MY SPECIAL REPORT NEWSCAST")
I believe that Myspace has done exactly what they must do to maintain a safe site to the best of their ability. The rest is up to every one of us to handle the rest!!!
Posted by sirjameslibro (1 comment )
Link Flag
Close them down. Imprision the pedophiles
If myspace loves pedophiles then the CEO needs to go to jail for a good long time. Bring in the law and close them down forever. It would send a good message to vermin that prey on children.

Pedophiles have made a choice to leave the human race. Therefore the animals have no rights. There are no privacy issues being violated, that only applies to humans.

Tough luck myspace, you backed the wrong animal.
Posted by nothingavailable (53 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're so way off base...
...you're not even in the same ball park.

The idea being entertained here is whether or not the AG's require any kind of warrant, court order or subpoena before even attempting to retrieve this information.

If it was in the course of an existing investigation, I'm pretty sure the paperwork would already be in place for this kind of request.

Since the AG is just blanketly asking for this information, it's in MySpace's best interest to say, "No, because you didn't go through the channels and we don't want to get sued for breach of privacy."

This doesn't say MySpace loves pedo's. It just says it (MySpace) needs all of the AG ducks in a row before committing resources to the request. This is actually a good thing since it says the AG should play by rules already spelled out rather than going at it gung-ho and creating the rules as it goes along.

Now someone might come back and try to lambaste me for something I said earlier regarding something that might look similar, but that was an entirely different matter altogether and is of no relevance here - illegal search and seizure isn't what this is about.
Posted by `WarpKat (275 comments )
Link Flag
Well Excuse Them!
For thinking they had to abide by the law. These States Attorneys General are just seeking to increase their standings with the voters. Too bad that Federal Law stands in their way. Also to bad for MySpace that cretins like you cannot understand that the law applies equally to everyone.
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Link Flag
RE
"If myspace loves pedophiles then the CEO needs to go to jail for a good long time. Bring in the law and close them down forever."

It's not illegal to insist that government get a subpoena for information about the user of site before turning over the requested information.


"It would send a good message to vermin that prey on children. Pedophiles have made a choice to leave the human race. Therefore the animals have no rights. There are no privacy issues being violated, that only applies to humans."


Criminals have rights, whether you care to acknowledge that fact makes little difference.

"Tough luck MySpace, you backed the wrong animal."

Just a few spoiled politicians, who forget MySpace has no obligation to comply with their request without a court order or subpoena.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
The AG's Must Be Kidding?
Let's say that Murdoch turns over everything he has . Do these AG's honestly believe they'll be able to make a single arrest? This is inane political posturing as usual on the kidsex issue that has nothing whatever to do with protecting kids and all to do with getting idiot politicians re-elected.

This joker from NC's line was - forgive me for saying it but - hilarious:

"It's outrageous that MySpace chooses to protect the privacy of predators over the safety of children."

Right, Mr Cooper - I'm sure that's Rupert Murdoch's choice.
Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
funny
Isn't it funny how the AG's are coming down on MySpace for not
ignoring the law and simply caving in to their illegal demands?
What's so wrong with getting a subpoena lately? Is it because
this ILLEGAL NAZI ADMINISTRATION doesn't want anyone to
notice what they are doing? Is it because they want to pass
judgement on others behind closed doors while being protected
from scrutiny?

I'm definitely not a MySpace fan, but they are in the right here. If
the AG's follows the law, MySpace will comply. They *WANT* to.
They just don't want to allow the AG's to run roughshod over
YOUR constitutional rights and end up trashing any possible
cases arising from this.

Interesting how the AG's are starting to act like nazi's after the
publicity they've got lately. I guess no matter what happens to
Gonzales, Bush has his third reich in place already. We know the
8 or 9 or more AG's that were fired were not fired for
performance reasons, I'm wondering if they all answered "no"
when asked if they would urinate on the constitution in order to
persecute the enemies of the state.
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Baaaahhhh
Sheeple

When you hear the words "terrorism", "child molester", "gay anything", "homeland" or "protect" anywhere; remember that it is the magician's flourished hand geusture, and the important thing just happend where you weren't looking.
Posted by Paul Skinner (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Without a subpoena
>>>"The ECPA prohibits us from disclosing the information they're seeking without a subpoena,"<<<

Then get the #%&! subpoena.

At least bring them up on obstruction of justice charges! (* GRIN *)

FWIW
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Demanding that the law be followed
is hardly obstruction of Justice.

This way is actually better for any cases the AG's might bring, as evidence gathered without going through the proper channels may well be inadmissible and anything based on that may be fruit of the poisoned tree.

As lawyers, one would think they would know that.

Of course my opinions are my own and I am not a lawyer, but the AG's seem to be acting more as Politicians and forgetting they are supposed to uphold the law, as officers of the court.
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Link Flag
Fascist Nazi Anti-pedophiles
First of all, every single pedophile on the various lists out there has already served their time, paid their fines, and in fact, paid their debt to society; and unless they are still on probation, deserve the same legal right to privacy as all other citizens enjoy. That includes freedom from unlawful investigation by any AG.
Second, pedophiles are no more dangerous to the rest of society than people with HIV, drug resistant TB, or incapable of being vaccinated for polio, and I don't see any of them being required to have their whereabouts restricted by law. If you are going to require them to self-report, then you're wasting your time. If they truely constitute a danger of committing a felony crime, then you are within your rights to execute them to save the victims. After all, only fools keep uncontrolled dangerous animals around.
Third, there is a vast difference between a two ten year olds playing doctor, a 19 year old having mutually voluntary sex with a 16 year old, and a 40 year old committing a murder/mutilation/rape of a 6 year old. Yet all have been covered by the term "pedophile".
Finally, the question of what harm is being done. Coercion is definately wrong. But it's even been declared illegal for someone to have child pornographic cartoons, which harm nobody. And those folks still get labeled pedophiles and sexual predators.
Basically, it's time to stop engaging in a witch hunt for people who made a mistake and paid their dues. If you're going to make it illegal for these people to exist, then you'd better put up and kill them, or shut up about the whole thing.
Posted by Dr_Zinj (727 comments )
Reply Link Flag
are you a pedophile?
Your comments are truly disturbing. "Child pornographic cartoons are not harmful to anyone". Sick...

A free person has rights. If an adult person uses their free will and chooses to violate a child, they have also chosen to give up their rights to future child access.

This is common sense to anybody who has common sense. Most child rapists and molesters commit tens or hundreds of offenses before being caught. After getting caught and making a child go through the terrible court process, the child molester or rapist receives a meager punishment for their crime.

Society, however, has an absolute right to protect other children from a convicted child molester. This is because children (and societies) also have rights. We are not compelled by law to sit and do nothing as more children are victimized by your kind.

The AGs are acting in response to credible complaints by parents that child molesters are using MySpace to seek out and groom their victims. MySpace protects itself and its own economic interests and does nothing to protect the children using their service.

As a member of the libertarian party and a person who loves his freedom and cherishes his rights, I support strong law enforcement that protects the rights and freedom of children to grow up without being molested. Again, common sense.

It is sad that CNet would allow this forum to be used to promote "freedom to groom victims" by pedophiles.
Posted by Geno_USA (1 comment )
Link Flag
AGs Calling Their Bluff
If you trackback to when this all started, you'll see that the AGs are calling MySpace's bluff, in a very public way. For over a year the AGs have been demanding that MySpace segregate the minors from the adults, or raise the minimum age, and use an age verification system. MySpace has refused for obvious business reasons. Instead, they blamed sexual predation on registered sex offenders, with no supporting foundation. They solicited John McCain to draft legislation favorable to MySpace's business interests, and punk the AGs, by demanding a federal database of registered sex offender emails, IMs etc. The AGs called this a false security blanket, and continued their demands, which MySpace ignored. Meanwhile, MySpace Impact was launched which provided a fund raising platform for McCain's presidential bid, and another patsy for Murdoch.
Growing tired of fighting Murdoch and Congressional patsies, the AGs are calling MySpace's bluff. If registered sex offenders are the problem, prove it. Give us the information Sentinel has uncovered, we'll check for false positives, we'll check Sentinel's methodology, we'll check for illegal conduct, and we'll check your reaction to the information. The AGs know they can't subpoena information about a citizen engaging in legal conduct, and MySpace wants legislation that protects them from civil claims for denying rights to a classified group of individuals. Will MySpace deny registered sex offenders from participaing in the political forums they have announced? Not without Congressional protection.
Posted by dayebreak (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A convenient rational
However, if they AG's want the info they simply have to go through legal channels. After all the law applies to them too.
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Link Flag
 

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