MySpace to Turn Over Sex Offender Data to States

Company heeds the demands of Attorneys General.

by / May 21, 2007

MySpace has agreed to turn over names and other information about thousands of registered sex offenders the company has identified on its Web site. The company's decision to disclose the data comes only days after the Attorneys General of eight states, on behalf of the larger group, wrote a letter to MySpace seeking the information. The letter also asked how many sex offenders MySpace has identified, how many profiles have been removed, as well as what steps the site has taken to purge them, and to alert law enforcement and users who communicated with the offenders.

Company officials had originally refused a request for the information issued on May 14.

"I am pleased that MySpace has heeded our demand, now by subpoena, to provide information about convicted sex offenders and confirm steps to remove them from the site," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

In December 2006, MySpace hired Sentinel Tech Holdings to check the site for registered sex offenders. The Attorneys General wrote MySpace after receiving information that Sentinel's search disclosed thousands of offenders with profiles. The company confirmed Sentinel Tech Holdings findings and says it has deleted these users from its site but has preserved information about them and will provide it to the Attorneys General.

"We must keep barriers between predators and children and this information will help us do that," said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. "Parents know that sex offenders interacting with children is a bad idea, whether it happens on the Internet or in a neighborhood." 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 a North Carolina Senate committee last Tuesday and a vote by the full Senate is expected as early as this week.

MySpace 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 e-mail and IP addresses. 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.

Gina M. Scott Writer