When a Level 2 sex offender with a profile on Match.com asked out a fictitious single mom whose profile was created by Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law, Ahearn contacted the company and demanded that he be banned from the popular dating website.
According to Match.com's "Terms of Agreement" ficitious personas are not permitted (see portions of TOA at end of this article); except possibly by law enforcement personnel. At what point do social networking sites allow ficititious accounts for vigilante purposes? Is/was Match.com a participant in this "sting-of-sorts" like Dateline was with Perverted Justice?When a company representative refused to do anything more than force the sex offender to delete his profile—and only after Ahearn threatened to go public with the story—she knew that more had to be done.
In response to this case and others like it, Nassau County Legis. Dave Mejias (D-Farmingdale) introduced legislation that would prohibit sex offenders from using similarly popular social networking websites, such as Facebook, as well as online dating services like E-Harmony.
“There are too many horror stories of children being lured by already convicted sex offenders through these sites,” says Mejias.
Come on, children should not be on sites like Match.com, he is mixing issues.If passed, the proposed law would make the use of these sites a violation for all sex offenders in the county. Those found in violation would be brought back to court and could be put behind bars.
If the legislation was passed (which includes UNRESTRICTED ACCESS to the National Crime Information Center records) then Parents for Megan's Law would be acting as a Law Enforcement agency (and checking every background of anyone who answers a fictitious Match.com account). Why not allow law enforcement to do what they are paid to do.The bill would build upon The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), a New York State law that was enacted in May 2008 that banned Level 3 sex offenders from online social networking websites and mandated that sex offenders register Internet accounts and screen names with the State Division of Criminal Justice Services. E-STOP also allows networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, to screen or block a sex offender’s Internet messages. But critics say the e-STOP law only prohibited the highest-level offenders—those who victimized a minor—from these sites.
“Up to this point, the ban doesn’t apply to those who are below a Level 3 or those who have targeted an adult, which allows for a gaping loophole,” says Ahearn.
The proposed county law would also expand regulation to Internet venues previously unmentioned, such as dating sites, where offenders can still shop for victims.
“The Internet is the key for sex offenders to get into our homes,” says Ahearn. “There are more than 20 million people online dating, yet all of the large sites have no type of screening. You can be whoever you want to be. There are adults who even have photos of their children on these services. Nothing’s being done to ban these offenders or warn people of them.”
Gerard Cook, director of the Nassau County Probation Department and Chief Karen O’Callaghan of the Nassau County Police Department also expressed their support for the legislation at a press conference on Wednesday, May 27.
“We currently have 340 sex offenders on probation,” Cook says. “Sixty-five of those were proven to be involved in computer crime (Sex crime?). That doesn’t mean that the others were not.”
Neither Facebook nor Match.com responded to requests seeking comment.
“This law will go a long way in prohibiting offender’s attempts to use the Internet as their means for victimization,” Cook adds.
In the meantime, it’s up to parents to monitor their children’s online activities. ..Source.. by Michelle Regalado
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