- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — MySpace.com said yesterday that it immediately will begin sharing with law-enforcement officials data on the registered sex offenders whom it has identified and removed from the popular social networking Web site.

MySpace balked last week when attorneys general from eight states demanded that it provide data on how many registered sex offenders are using the site and where they live.

The company said federal privacy laws required the states to file subpoenas or other legal requests before it could release the information. MySpace general counsel Mike Angus said company officials met with North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal last week to sort out the details of those requests.

“We hope to get requests from every state,” Mr. Angus said. “From day one, we have preserved all the information in the hopes of getting these requests.”

MySpace, owned by media conglomerate News Corp., obtained the data from Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. The companies partnered in December to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States, and Mr. Angus said MySpace has already used the database to remove about 7,000 profiles out of a total of about 180 million.

The companies “developed ‘Sentinel Safe’ from scratch because there was no means to weed [sexual predators] out and get them off of our site,” Mr. Angus said.

Last week, attorneys general in North Carolina, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania asked for the Sentinel data. The company initially refused, saying the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act required the states to file a subpoena or similar legal request before it could release the data.

North Carolina filed a civil investigative demand yesterday, and states including Ohio, New York and Connecticut also pursued subpoenas. Mr. Blumenthal said his 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,” Mr. Blumenthal said.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said his office also will subpoena the records.

“I think once we find out the content of the messages — of course, it will depend on how long they retain that information — we may very well find that some of the messages included illegal enticement of a child,” Mr. Hood said.

Mr. Angus said the company hoped to have data moving by yesterday afternoon.

“We’re going to get most of it out today,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for those creeps. We don’t want them on our sites.”

The technology, which belongs to Sentinel Tech, can be used by other social-networking sites, Mr. Angus said.

The company also has arranged for law enforcers to use the Sentinel software directly.

Social-networking sites such as MySpace allow users to create online profiles with photos, music and personal information, and let them send messages to one another and, in many cases, browse other profiles.

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