MySpace Releases Sex Offender Data To Attorneys General - InformationWeek

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5/21/2007
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MySpace Releases Sex Offender Data To Attorneys General

MySpace has been matching its users to information in its Sentinel Safe database and deleting registered sex offenders' profiles since May 2.

MySpace has agreed to provide all 50 states with information on registered sex offenders.

MySpace announced Monday that it would provide the Multi-State Attorney General Executive Committee with information on offenders that it has identified and deleted from its site.

MySpace has been matching its users to information in its Sentinel Safe database and deleting registered sex offenders' profiles since May 2. Last week, the company refused to provide several states' attorneys general with the information, citing federal privacy laws that prohibit release of personal data without a subpoena.

By Monday, several states had followed up a letter of request with subpoenas, which allowed MySpace to release the information without violating federal privacy laws.

"In addition to immediately removing registered sex offenders from MySpace, our plans have always been to provide the information collected by Sentinel Safe to law enforcement, including the attorneys general," Mike Angus, executive VP and general counsel of Fox Interactive Media, said in a prepared statement.

Angus said the company was happy to have worked with the attorneys general in coming up with a solution that allows it to provide the information for criminal investigations and probation or parole proceedings.

MySpace has repeatedly expressed a commitment to removing any registered sex offenders from its site. The company said it could not find any software to expedite its work before implementing Sentinel Safe. Since offenders are not required to register their e-mail or ISP information in most states, the company announced in December that it would implement a new database to identify and delete offenders. After months of developing and testing the system, the social networking site deployed Sentinel Safe less than three weeks ago.

"We have zero tolerance for sexual predators on MySpace and took the initiative to create this first of its kind tool ourselves because nothing previously existed," MySpace CSO Hemanshu Nigam said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to working collaboratively with the attorneys general on all future efforts to make the Internet a safer place for teens."

Nigam said the company would continue promoting legislation requiring sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses "so they can be kept off social networking sites in the first place and urge other social networking sites to join our lead and implement technologies designed to keep predators away from younger users."

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