Skip to comments.How safe is online romance?Lawmakers want dating sites to disclose background check information
Posted on 03/29/2005 5:19:01 AM PST by freepatriot32
March 28, 2005
How safe is online romance?Lawmakers want dating sites to disclose background check information
By DAVID EGGERT
Associated Press Writer
LANSING -- Sandie Cornillie did a double take when she first heard about a bill that would force online dating sites to say whether criminal background checks have been conducted on their members.
The 46-year-old divorcee from Portage prefers finding dates on the Internet over visiting the local bar or relying on a friend to play matchmaker. The Web is less intimidating, more convenient and arguably safer, she said.
"It's a very safe way of getting to know someone before we meet face to face," said Cornillie, who has tried online dating for five years. "I haven't met any rapists or any crazy people. It's kind of up to you to be careful."
Some lawmakers, though, say that as online dating becomes more popular, users need better protection from predators. Twenty-six million people visited dating sites in January, according to the Internet research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.
The Senate is considering legislation that would require an Internet dating company serving Michigan residents to disclose on its Web site whether it has conducted criminal background checks on users, based solely on the names provided.
A provider also would have to disclose the limitations of background checks and urge members to adhere to safe dating practices.
Republican Sen. Alan Cropsey of DeWitt is sponsoring the bill.
"There are inherent dangers in the whole area of the Internet," he said. "Something needs to be done."
The measure has divided the Senate, and the split is not solely along party lines. A Senate panel voted 4-3 to ship the bill to the full chamber, with one Democrat joining three Republicans in support. Two Democrats and one Republicans voted "no."
Backers say just posting the background-check disclosure would go a long way toward boosting awareness of the possible dangers of meeting people online. Learning that other users are not known criminals would provide a sense of security. They say knowing that checks have not been done would arm users with valuable information.
But critics -- including most online sites -- say any feeling of security would be deceptive because there is no way to ensure people give their real names.
Some wonder if government can effectively regulate the Internet, and some users such as Cornillie worry sites would pass on the screening costs to them. Others question whether the bill is being pushed mainly for financial gain.
The legislation is backed by True.com, the only online dating service that performs criminal screening. Similar legislation has been proposed in five other states: California, Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Texas.
True.com, a relative newcomer to the industry, cites incidents where people have been shot, stabbed or scammed by dates they met online.
Herb Vest, founder of the site, said the Michigan legislation would save lives, property and heartache.
"As an industry, we owe it to our members to inform them of the potential hazards," he said.
Detractors, however, say the measure blatantly favors True.com and argue that the free market should drive demand for background checks, not the government.
Match.com spokeswoman Kristin Kelly said the company just facilitates an age-old process -- meeting people -- with new-age technology. Users still take the same precautions as those who meet people in a bar, she said.
"Safety in dating, that's a concern for everyone," Kelly said. "You're meeting someone new for the first time. You have to be cautious. But if we get too far down the path of paranoia, we don't see what point that serves."
Residents don't want Michigan to become a "nanny" state, she said, arguing that meeting people online is no less safe than meeting in a restaurant or at a party.
Similar legislation passed the House last year before stalling in the Senate. Its chances for success this time are unclear.
In a debate on the floor last week, Democratic Sen. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek said some lawmakers are wavering because users still could hide their shady pasts by using fictitious names.
"That's a fundamental flaw with this bill," he said.
But Cropsey said the main goal is to heighten awareness about the possible dangers of meeting people online.
The Senate could vote on the bill in April.
Just how are the rino P.O.S's going to enfroce this law anyway?Will they send the michigan state police to californnia to arrest the owner of inernet dating sites that dont post background info ?Or will they fly the state police to manila to arrest the owner of filipinalove.com for not posting the background info on the WORLD WIDE web?
He reminds me of someone but I just can't place it.
I can't wait for Orrin Hatch to sponsor similar federal legislation. /semi-sarcasm
Background checks aren't going to be allowed to disclose what kind of anti-depressants a dating site participant has been prescribed, so the whole thing remains a big gamble. There is no way to legislate the risk out of an inherently risky activity.
Sure there is. Require men to be given injections of estrogen until they're married. That'd probably do the trick.
Of course, then we'd end up acting like a bunch of French pusses...but that's the ultimate objective of these POS nanny-state legislators anyway.
I have walked through downtown Detroit at 2 a.m. - very interesting experience. Everyone figures if you are out on the Detroit streets at 2 a.m., you must be a real bad m*f* and will leave you alone. Just walk with good posture and don't make eye contact with anyone and you are usually o.k.
Crikey, how safe is romance OFFLINE?
99.9% of internet relationships are simple, normal relationships, the .1% of internet relationships that go wrong, wind up being written up as a newspaper article.
99.9% of non internet relationships (boy meets girl etc) are simple normal relationships, , the .1% that go wrong NEVER wind up in the newspaper.
66.34% of all statistics you read on the internet are made up on the spot by the author.
eHarmony - for when you want to meet that special someone with no felony convictions on their record.
Internet Dating was good to me. I met a few good women that were interested in relationships and met a lot of women interested in only a weekend fling (these were good also). I was always open and honest with the women I chatted with on these sites and they all new about recent stint in prison long before we met face to face.
Honesty is always better than lying.
They've already found a simpler way to do the same thing - market soy products as "health food". ;)
Sadly, you pretty much have to assume that people willing to post detailed profiles of themselves on major dating sites are psychologically messed up. Internet dating is one of those good ideas that just has too many rough edges yet to be viable.
What a simple and normal relantionship, like.
He reminds me of a cross between Tony Blair and Kermit the Frog gone terribly wrong.
I met my husband of ten years the "old fashioned" pre-computer way; through a newspaper ad. I'm surprised those haven't been banned as well.
Stupid legislation. You pays your money and you takes your chances. The way things are portrayed in the media, everyone's a freak and we should all be living in individual caves, never interacting with our fellow wo/man.
Why don't these Elected Representatives of the People put more time, money and effort into protecting kids on-line from pedophiles? Has anyone missed that there have been three abductions in the past week alone, let alone how many "sting" operations that caught pedophiles in the act?
Moe? on the Simpsons.