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MySpace to share sex offender data with states
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- MySpace.com will provide law enforcement officials with data on registered sex offenders who use the popular social networking Web site, the company said today.
Attorneys general from eight states demanded last week that the company provide data on how many registered sex offenders are using the site and where they live. MySpace initially refused, citing federal privacy laws.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said today that the company agreed to comply with subpoenas from at least 14 states.
"Our subpoena compels this information right away, within hours, not weeks, without delay because it is vital to protecting children," Mr. Blumenthal said. "Many of these sex offenders may have violated their parole or probation by contacting or soliciting children on MySpace."
Mr. Blumenthal said that with names and addresses, his office also will be looking for detailed information about how each sex offender used MySpace. That information will be cross-referenced against the terms of probation and parole for each of those MySpace members, he said.
"Contact with children is likely to be prohibited in many of these cases," he said.
MySpace obtained the data from Sentinel Tech Holding Corp., with which the company partnered in December to build a database with information on sex offenders.
"We developed Sentinel Safe from scratch because there was no means to weed [the offenders] out and get them off of our site," said Mike Angus, MySpace's executive vice president and general counsel.
Mr. Angus said the company, owned by media conglomerate News Corp., always had planned to share information on sex offenders it identified and already has removed about 7,000 profiles out of a total of about 180 million.
"This is no different than an off-line community," he said. "We're trying to keep it safe."
Mr. Angus said the company also had made arrangements to allow law enforcement to use the Sentinel software directly.
By John R. Bolton
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