Attorneys General to get info on thousands of sex offenders found on MySpace
Release date: 5/21/2007
MySpace agrees to provide the names of convicted sex offenders on its site
Raleigh: MySpace will turn over names and other information about convicted sex offenders the company has identified on its website, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
In North Carolina, Cooper will share this information about registered sex offenders with law enforcement. The data can be used to look for potential parole violations by offenders who may be barred from using a computer or contacting minors and in ongoing investigations that may involve these offenders.
“We must keep barriers between predators and children and this information will help us do that,” said Cooper. “Parents know that sex offenders interacting with children is a bad idea, whether it happens on the Internet or in a neighborhood.”
Following a letter sent by state attorneys general to MySpace on May 14 demanding that the company turn over information about sex offenders, MySpace has confirmed that Sentinel Tech Holdings has already identified thousands of registered sex offenders as members of the popular social networking site. MySpace says it has deleted these users from its site but has preserved information about them and will provide it to the attorneys general.
MySpace says it will continue to search its site for registered sex offenders, and will give the states information about all offenders found on its site including their email and IP addresses. The attorneys general commended MySpace for taking this important safety step.
“We’re pleased to see MySpace step up to the plate and provide us with this very important information,” said Cooper. “But we still must do more to protect our children from predators.”
Cooper is pushing a new North Carolina law to require parental consent and ban sex offenders from social networking sites like MySpace. That measure was unanimously approved by an NC Senate committee last Tuesday. A vote by the full Senate is expected as early as this week.
The fact that many sex offenders have used MySpace underscores how dangerous social networking sites can be for children, the attorneys general said. In 2006 alone, the media reported almost 100 criminal incidents across the country involving adults who used MySpace to prey or to attempt to prey on children. Earlier this month, the Davidson County Sheriff’s office arrested a Thomasville man for soliciting a North Carolina child on MySpace.
The information provided by MySpace does not include sex offenders who have not been convicted, are not registered, or are using aliases on the site. Cooper and the other attorneys general remain concerned about other sex offenders who may be on the site using an alias and misrepresenting their age.
Since May of 2006, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal have been leading a group of attorneys general from 52 states and territories who are pushing social networking sites to do a better job protecting children from threats such as sexual predators and inappropriate content.
Last week’s letter, written by eight attorneys general on behalf of the larger group, is just the latest part of this effort. Because of the attorney generals’ push, MySpace has previously taken other steps to improve safety on its site such as screening profiles for inappropriate content and making certain profiles private. The attorneys general are continuing to urge MySpace to require parental permission for children to be on its site, among other safety steps.