MySpace will donate info to AGs

by John O'Brien |
May 21, 2007, 1:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - The social networking site on Monday made good on its promise to cooperate with state attorneys general, handing over information on its members who are convicted sex offenders.

The information was requested a week ago, but MySpace said federal law prevented it from sharing the information it gathered unless it was subpoenaed or subject to a search warrant. If subpoenaed, MySpace officials said they had no problem sharing.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who first claimed MySpace's stance was "disingenuous" and the information required no subpoenaed, says there are at least 5,000 registered convicted sex offenders with MySpace profiles.

"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," said Blumenthal, one of eight attorneys general who made up an executive committee tasked with requesting the information on behalf of all attorneys general.

"Our subpoena compels this information right away -- within hours, not weeks, without delay -- because it is vital to protecting children. Many of these sex offenders may have violated their parole or probation by contacting or soliciting children on MySpace."

After his harsh words last week, Blumenthal commended MySpace Monday.

"Other social networking web sites should follow MySpace's lead to kick out sex offenders and keep them off their sites," he said.

MySpace hired Sentinel Tech Holdings to check the site for registered sex offenders in December. Its findings are what the attorneys general desired.

MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam told The Associated Press that the site has been using software to identify and remove sex offenders for nearly two weeks, and MySpace has "removed every registered sex offender that we identified out of our more than 175 million profiles."

At the National Association of Attorneys General spring meeting in Washington, D.C., several attorneys general expressed their desire for more regulations on social networking sites. Illinois' Lisa Madigan said predators are able to "find and groom their next victims" on such sites.

"I will continue to help lead our coalition of all 50 states in urging MySpace to make its site safer by instituting age verification and raising its minimum age to 16," Blumenthal said. "Despite this positive step, these convicted sex offenders are just the most visible tip of the predator problem, because there may be thousands more such profiles using false names or lacking felony convictions. Additional steps such as age and identity verification are urgently and immediately needed."

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