May 21, 2007 9:19 AM PDT

MySpace to provide sex offender data to state AGs

MySpace.com unveiled a plan Monday for cooperating with requests from state attorneys general for data pertaining to registered sex offenders.

According to a statement from the company, MySpace will provide the Multi-State Attorney General Executive Committee with data from Sentinel Safe, the database of information on registered sex offenders that the company has compiled through its partnership with identity verification firm Sentinel Tech Holding. Sentinel Safe, which contains data aggregated from state registries, has been in the works since late last year and was officially deployed May 2.

The key behind the new plan, according to MySpace representatives, is efficiency. "There were more than 50 disparate sex offender registries and no way of tying them together and checking them against our user database," Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, said in an interview. So far, the software has flagged and deleted about 7,000 registered sex offenders from MySpace's user base of around 180 million profiles, according to Michael Angus, general counsel for MySpace parent company Fox Interactive Media, a subsidiary of News Corp.

"Up until now, the predators have felt like they can have a free ride (on social-networking sites), and that day is over," Angus said.

MySpace initially asserted that it was legally unable to comply with the requests set forth in a letter sent earlier this month from the attorneys general of eight states--Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The letter asking that the social-networking site provide the data, cited concerns "that sexual predators are using MySpace to lure children into face-to-face encounters and other dangerous activities."

But MySpace responded that it couldn't turn the information over due to the terms of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which technically prohibits such information from being shared without a subpoena, as well as some state privacy laws.

It appears, however, that an accord was struck late last week. Through MySpace's newly announced partnership with the attorneys general, Angus and Nigam said, the company will be able to address the federal and state laws. Company representatives emphasized that the social network had always planned to share the Sentinel Safe data with the attorneys, who could then pass the information on to law enforcement officials in their states.

Different hoops in different states
"It's simply a matter of making sure we jump through the right legal hoops," Angus said. In some states, that means civil subpoenas; in others, it means demands for investigation or other forms of court orders. "The process is really just compliance with each of the state laws, so each state has their own process that they have to follow," he said.

He added that the dialogue has been ongoing. "We have a long working history with the attorneys general, especially Richard Blumenthal (of Connecticut) and Roy Cooper (of North Carolina). We've been working with them for quite a while and they're aware that we've been developing this technology."

Harsh words came from the attorneys' offices last week. Blumenthal put out a statement saying it was "inexplicable and inexcusable" for MySpace to claim it was illegal to turn over the data, and Cooper said it was "outrageous that MySpace chooses to protect the privacy of predators over the safety of children."

A statement from Cooper on Monday confirmed that MySpace will be sharing the Sentinel Safe information with his office and those of the other attorneys general. "We're pleased to see MySpace step up to the plate and provide us with this very important information," the attorney general is quoted as saying. Cooper is also, according to the release, promoting a new law in North Carolina to require parental consent for children to join sites like MySpace and ban sex offenders from belonging to social-networking sites altogether.

Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, conveyed a similar message in a separate statement Monday. "I am pleased that MySpace has heeded our demand, now by subpoena, to provide information about convicted sex offenders and confirm steps to remove them from the site," he said. "I commend MySpace for taking this step and welcome this cooperation."

MySpace, meanwhile, has been promoting other legal strategies to combat sex offenders. The site has been vocal in recommending that states mandate that all e-mail addresses belonging to registered sex offenders be kept on record. This practice has been signed into law in Kentucky, Virginia and Arizona, MySpace representatives said, and is being introduced in 13 other states. On the federal level, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are pursuing similar legislation on the federal level.

This kind of law, Angus said, will allow MySpace to permanently block e-mail addresses that have been connected to sex offenders. "We need to criminalize their online activity," he said.

In addition, MySpace representatives said other social-networking sites will be able to license the Sentinel Safe database technology from the ID verification firm and use it to check their own membership records. Several companies, whose names were not disclosed, are apparently already in talks to do so. "We sense an urgency here," Angus said, "and the industry needs to participate in that sense of urgency."

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14 comments

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How will this even work?
Whats stopping a sex offender from using some random name and address?
Posted by matale5 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It won't really
This is all just politics. It's no different than the drug war. We've been fighting a drug war my entire life, yet it is just as easy to get drugs as it ever was. So why do they do it.. One, to make it look like they are doing something. Two, so they can ask for more money.

Thanks to the media your average non-tech person thinks myspace is a dangerous place. So therefore law enforcement is under pressure to do something. Law enforcements answer is they ask for a bunch of useless data from myspace so that it looks like they are doing something. Unfortunately, because the data is useless you will find they will come up with a grand scheme to fight this kind of thing. Not surprisingly it will require boatloads of money of which you and I will have to pony up.

In the end, very few people will be caught, tons of cash will be wasted, and your average little lemming will fell all safe in their false little reality.
Posted by Arrgster (92 comments )
Link Flag
MyMolester Dot Com
Isn't it time that parents got a handle on what their kids are doing online and put an end to this sort of opportunity for child molesters?

Parents, wake up.
Posted by desultorypolemic (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It's the governments job.
Oh, come now. Surely you jest. It's not the parents job to raise children anymore. That's why we have lawmakers. Parents are much to busy doing whatever it is they do to monitor what kids do. And besides that children must have unfettered access to the Internet and TV and games so they can be cool like other kids. Personally, I think we should just censor the whole world and allow each government to decide what is proper and right.

(If you didn't get the huge amount of sarcasm I was laying out on that then... well I don't know what.)
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
That Broad Brush Again
When did Sex Offender automatically become Child Molester? The
majority of SO's arent child related.

Another example of focusing on the witch hunt, and letting real
issues fall by the wayside.
Posted by Gromit801 (393 comments )
Link Flag
What's Next
I suppose an agreement was made to prevent MySpace from being sued for violating the Privacy Act. Individuals engaging in legal conduct, sex offender or not, social networking site or not, are protected under the Privacy Act. No one has the right to divulge their email address and IP address.

MySpace wants a federal email registry, which they know will not work. They will then ask for an IP registry, which will work to some extent. They will then ask for...
Posted by dayebreak (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Myspace Refused to Cooperate & Help Parents Find Son
I refuse to believe that nobility is just a state mind, that it no longer exist. I refuse to believe that a helpful hand is thing of the past, that each one of us are on there own in times of need. But comes a company like Myspace.com who makes me think that it is a thing of the past.

Last Year, my family went thru some tough times as our son had a lapse of judgement and runaway. Missing for 2 weeks but now He is back, safe with us once again. I have to tell you that it was the most grueling and worst feeling I've felt in my life. I don't wish this on any mom or parent.

For days there was no clue to where we could find him then suddenly we had a break. A popular site Myspace.com have the information that would lead us to where our son is. Unfortunately Myspace.com denied us of that information, sighting that it is a PRIVACY ISSUE.

Since MySpace.com Terms of Use Agreement under #12 Disclaimers. include the following,

"Under no circumstances shall MySpace.com be responsible for any loss or damage, including personal injury or death"

I guess they do not feel any kind of responsibility or have the GOOD CONSCIENCE of divulging that information that would lead to the location of a Missing Minor Child who they are aware could be in grave danger.

I am very glad we found our son, No thanks to Myspace.com. I am also very sad and furious that such people(Myspace.com Founders, Tom Anderson & Chris DeWolfe), such company with NO GOOD CONSCIENCE exist.
Posted by RachelnCJsMom (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Unfortunate
Sorry to hear about that, but I can say your request for them to hand over that info is bound to be rejected. They will not hand over ANY info unless asked to by law enforcement. It doesn't matter what the circumstances, they will not do it. Want to know why? Because they can not prove your intentions are true just based on your word. They need proof to cover their own butts.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Link Flag
Sex Offender Hysteria and Recidivism Rates
[b]READ[/b]about Sex Offender Hysteria:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&#38;ie=UTF-8&#38;rlz=1T4GGLG_en___US205&#38;q=Sex+Offender+Hysteria" target="_newWindow">http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&#38;ie=UTF-8&#38;rlz=1T4GGLG_en___US205&#38;q=Sex+Offender+Hysteria</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&#38;fr=slv8-adbe&#38;p=Sex%20Offender%20Hysteria" target="_newWindow">http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&#38;fr=slv8-adbe&#38;p=Sex%20Offender%20Hysteria</a>

Links to studies done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics on the recidivism rates of criminals:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm#recidivism" target="_newWindow">http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm#recidivism</a>

and

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/rsorp94.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/rsorp94.htm</a>

I suggest that before posting that people actually RESEARCH the subject of the post enabling them to post in an [b]intelligent[/b] manner [u]INSTEAD[/u] of through knee jerk, emotional [b][u]IGNORANCE[/u]!!![/b]
Posted by btljooz (401 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Crucible
Folks should read "The Crucible" by Henry Miller. Wherever he uses
the word "witch," substitute "sex offender."

There's our nation today.
Posted by Gromit801 (393 comments )
Link Flag
 

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