AG Cooper seeks info about possible thousands of sex offenders on MySpace
Release date: 5/14/2007
AGs demand that MySpace turn over the names of convicted sex offenders
the company knows are on its site
Raleigh: MySpace needs to turn over the names of potentially thousands of registered sex offenders the company has identified on its website, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
Cooper and a group of other state attorneys general believe that data from Sentinel Tech Holdings, a company working with MySpace, indicate that thousands of known sex offenders may have been confirmed as MySpace members. In a letter sent today to MySpace, eight state attorney generals asked the company to provide the names and states of all registered sex offenders with profiles on its social networking site.
“MySpace is a treasure trove of potential victims for child predators,” said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. “Sex offenders have no business being on this site, and we believe MySpace has a responsibility to get them off the site.”
Today’s letter requests that MySpace tell the attorneys general by May 29 how many registered sex offenders have been found on its site and what steps the company has taken to remove them from the site. In addition the letter asks MySpace to provide details on what it has done to alert other MySpace users who have communicated with these offenders, and also to alert law enforcement about these offenders.
Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal are leading a group of attorneys general from 50 states and territories who have been pushing MySpace to do a better job protecting children from dangers on its site such as sexual predators and inappropriate content.
In 2006 alone, the media reported almost 100 criminal incidents across the country involving adults who used MySpace to prey or attempt to prey on children. In North Carolina, a former sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2006 for molesting a 15-year-old Cary boy he met on MySpace. In 2006, the NC State Bureau of Investigation arrested a Boiling Spring Lakes police officer for raping a 14-year-old girl he lured through MySpace.
Both North Carolina and Connecticut and a handful of other states are currently pushing legislation that would require social networking sites including MySpace to get parents’ permission before letting children join. Cooper is also pushing a measure that would make it a felony for convicted sex offenders to join social networking sites where children are members.
Today’s letter was signed by attorneys general from Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A copy of the letter is attached.
NC Department of Justice y 9001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-9001 y (919) 716-6400
STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL
A Communication From the Chief Legal Officers
Of the Following States:
Connecticut – Georgia – Idaho – Mississippi – New Hampshire – North Carolina –
Ohio – Pennsylvania
May 14, 2007
Mary Ellen Callahan Hogan and Hartson, LLP Columbia Square 555 Thirteenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20004
Dear Ms. Callahan:
As our states' chief legal officers, we are gravely concerned that sexual predators are using MySpace to lure children into face-to-face encounters and other dangerous activities. We write to you regarding MySpace’s December 2006 announcement with Sentinel Tech Holding regarding the identification of registered sex offenders on MySpace.
It is our understanding that the data from Sentinel reveals that thousands of known registered sexual offenders have been confirmed as MySpace members. If true, this dramatically exceeds the report from Wired magazine, which found 744 registered sex offenders with MySpace profiles. Perhaps thousands more sexual predators -- not registered or using fictitious names -- are lurking on your web site. We remain concerned about the design of your site, the failure to require parental permission, and the lack of safeguards necessary to protect our children.
We therefore request the following information: First, how many registered sex offenders in the Sentinel database have been cross-referenced against MySpace’s membership? Second, what is the exact number of known registered sex offenders who have been identified as members of MySpace to date? Please forward a list of the names of the registered sex offenders that you have identified with profiles on MySpace and the states in which they reside. Third, what steps has MySpace taken to alert law enforcement officials as well as MySpace users of such sex offenders? Finally, what steps has MySpace taken to remove sex offender profiles and how many have been removed?
Mary Ellen Callahan MySpace Multistate Executive Committee May 14, 2007 Page 2 of 2
We request a response by Tuesday, May 29, 2007. We look forward to hearing from you.
Roy Cooper Richard Blumenthal Attorney General North Carolina Attorney General Connecticut
Thurbert Baker Lawrence Wasden Attorney General Georgia Attorney General Idaho
Jim Hood Kelly A. Ayotte Attorney General Mississippi Attorney General New Hampshire
Marc Dann Tom Corbett Attorney General Ohio Attorney General Pennsylvania