by CIO Staff

MySpace Aims to Weed Out Sex Offenders

Dec 05, 20062 mins

Stepping up efforts to keep sex offenders off, the popular social networking website has partnered with an online identity and background verification company to build a U.S. national sex offender database and dedicate staff to checking the database against MySpace profiles.

Sentinel Tech Holding will build a searchable database containing information on sex offenders in the United States who are registered with various federal and state law enforcement agencies. The database, which will be frequently updated, will include details such as name, age, physical appearance, and distinguishing features like tattoos and scars.

MySpace staff will monitor the site 24 hours a day for sex offenders who are on the list. They’ll remove any matching profiles that they find.

MySpace has been lobbying for new legislation that could help it take the program one step further. The company wants a law that requires sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses in a national sex-offender database. The law would stipulate that the use of an unregistered e-mail constitutes a parole or probation violation, forcing offenders back to jail. If such a law is passed, MySpace could more easily identify sex offenders who have profiles on its site, the company said.

MySpace has been criticized for enabling profiles by registered sex offenders. Earlier this year, journalists around the country began cross-referencing sex-offender databases with MySpace profiles, finding matches and publicizing their results. MySpace responded by hiring a chief security officer to oversee safety and law enforcement affairs and introduced an advertising campaign to promote online safety.

MySpace still faces some thorny issues. For example, most sex offenders aren’t legally forbidden from creating a MySpace page, so it’s unclear if MySpace will receive some backlash for removing profiles.

-Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service (Dublin Bureau)

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