Social networking giant MySpace has announced it has reached an agreement with eight U.S. state attorneys general on a method for handing over information on convicted sex offenders found to be using MySpace services. The group of attorneys general is headed up by North Carolina AG Roy Cooer and Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal.
MySpace has been the target of both criticism and scrutiny in recent years as some of its members—some as young as 14 years old—have been targeted and even assaulted by online predators; the company is currently facing a lawsuit from families of teenage girls who were sexaually assaulted by predators they met via MySpace.
“In addition to immediately removing registered sex offenders from MySpace, our plans have always been to provide the information collected by Sentinel Safe to law enforcement, including the Attorneys General,” said Mike Angus, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Fox Interactive Media. “We’re pleased to have worked with Attorneys General Blumenthal and Cooper to devise a solution that allows us to provide this information in a way that enables law enforcement to use it in criminal investigations and probation or parole proceedings. We applaud their continued leadership in this area.”
In late 2006, MySpace launched a program to identify and remove profiles belonging to known sex offenders. MySpace says it has identified and deleted about 7,000 online profiles set up by sex offenders, but had not handed detailed information over to state authorities, saying disclosure laws barred it from sharing the information without a court order. However, the company says it wants to disclose information on sex offenders to appropriate authorities, but need to establish legal procedures for doing so in each state—otherwise, the offenders might be able to have information from MySpace excluded on a technicality.
“We will continue to promote legislation requiring sex offenders to register their email addresses so they can be kept off social networking sites in the first place,” said MySpace chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam, “and urge other social networking sites to join our lead and implement technologies designed to keep predators away from younger users.”
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