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US dating website to screen for sex offenders

/ 06:16 AM April 19, 2011

WASHINGTON—Match.com has announced plans to begin screening applicants against the US national sex offender registry after a woman was allegedly assaulted by a man she met through the dating site.

Match.com, which claims millions of members for its dating sites in 25 countries, said it planned to begin checking existing and new subscribers against the US registry of persons convicted of sex crimes.

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The move came after a female Hollywood entertainment executive revealed this month she had been sexually assaulted by a man she met through Match.com who had been convicted six times previously of sexual battery.

“This ordeal completely blindsided me because I had considered myself savvy about online dating safety,” the woman, who has not been identified, said in a statement released through her lawyer.

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“Match.com must begin to take some responsibility in protecting paying subscribers,” she said. “I do not want this to happen to anyone else.”

Match.com US president Mandy Ginsberg said the company had been considering using sex offender registry checks for several years but “their historical unreliability has always led us to conclude against it.”

The company has since changed its mind and will begin instituting the checks within 60 to 90 days.

“A combination of improved technology and an improved database now enables a sufficient degree of accuracy to move forward with this initiative, despite its continued imperfection,” Ginsberg said in a statement.

“We want to stress that while these checks may help in certain instances, they remain highly flawed, and it is critical that this effort does not provide a false sense of security to our members,” she said. “With millions of members, and thousands of first dates a week, Match.com, like any other large community, cannot guarantee the actions of all its members.”

The Dallas, Texas-based Match.com, which was founded in 1995 and is owned by IAC, already provides an online help page with safety tips for its members.

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TOPICS: company information, crimes, Internet, relationships, safety of citizens
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