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Attorneys General to get info on thousands of sex offenders found on MySpace Website

PRESS ADVISORY

Attorneys General to get info on thousands of sex offenders found on MySpace Website

May 21, 2007

MySpace will turn over names and other information about convicted sex offenders the company has identified on its website to the nation’s Attorneys General, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, president of the National Association of Attorneys General, announced today.

In Georgia, Attorney General Baker will share this information about registered sex offenders with law enforcement to crack down on internet predators who may be trolling MySpace looking for victims. The data obtained from MySpace can be used to look for potential probation or parole violations by offenders who may be barred from using a computer or contacting minors.

“Today’s decision by MySpace clears the way for law enforcement, both here in Georgia and around the nation, to target internet predators who use the appeal of social networking sites to search for potential victims,” Baker stated.

MySpace’s decision to release the data to the nation’s Attorneys General follows a letter sent by Attorney General Baker and seven other Attorneys General to MySpace on May 14 demanding that the company turn over information about sex offenders. Previously, MySpace had contracted with Sentinel Tech Holdings, an outside data firm, to compare the users of the MySpace website with sex offender registries maintained by state law enforcement. In its decision today, MySpace has confirmed the position of the Attorneys General that thousands of registered sex offenders were members of the popular social networking site. MySpace has deleted these users from its site but has preserved information about them and will provide it to the attorneys general.

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 email and IP addresses. The Attorneys General commended MySpace for taking this important safety step.

The fact that many sex offenders have used MySpace underscores how dangerous social networking sites can be for children, according to Baker. In 2006 alone, the media reported almost 100 criminal incidents across the country involving adults who used MySpace to prey or to attempt to prey on children. The nation’s Attorneys General remain concerned about other sex offenders who may be on the site using an alias and misrepresenting their age.

Since May of 2006, a working group of Attorneys General from 52 states and territories have been pushing social networking sites to do a better job protecting children from threats such as sexual predators and inappropriate content. Attorney General Baker serves on the executive committee of that working group, along with the Attorneys General from Connecticut, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Last week’s letter, written by Baker and the seven other members of the executive committee, is just the latest part of this effort. Because of the Attorney Generals’ push, MySpace has previously taken other steps to improve safety on its site such as screening profiles for inappropriate content and making certain profiles private. The Attorneys General are continuing to urge MySpace to require parental permission for children to be on its site, among other safety steps..