State News

Cooper Asks MySpace for Names of Registered Sex Offenders

Posted May 14, 2007
Updated May 15, 2007

— Top law enforcement officers from eight states on Monday asked MySpace.com to turn over the names of registered sex offenders who use the social networking Web site.

In a letter, the attorneys general asked MySpace to provide information on how many registered sex offenders are using the site, and where they live. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper signed the letter, along with attorneys general from Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In a statement, Cooper's office said media outlets in 2006 "reported almost 100 criminal incidents across the country involving adults who used MySpace to prey or attempt to prey on children."

In December, MySpace announced it was partnering with Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States. Software to identify and remove sex offenders from the site was launched in early May, MySpace officials said Monday in a statement.

"It is our understanding that the data from Sentinel reveals that thousands of known sex offenders have been confirmed as MySpace members," the letter from the attorneys general said.

In an interview, Cooper said the information was provided by "absolutely credible" sources, whom he declined to identify.

The attorneys general also asked that MySpace describe the steps it has taken to warn users about sex offenders and remove their profiles. They asked the Web site to respond to their requests by May 29.

"They are by far the largest social networking site," Cooper said. "They certainly should be the standard bearer for changes that need to be made."

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called the site a "virtual playground" for predators. "That combination of sex offenders and children is a recipe for tragedy," Blumenthal said.

The site is owned by media conglomerate News Corp. On Monday, MySpace did not say whether it would comply with the request.

"We are in the initial stages of cross referencing our membership against Sentinel's registered sex offender database and removing any confirmed matches," Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, said in a statement.

MySpace and Sentinel would then provide the information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children so the organization could work directly with law enforcement, he said.

Nigam also said legislation requiring sex offenders to register e-mail addresses would expedite the process.

MySpace's policy prevents children under 14 from setting up profiles, but it relies on users to specify their ages.

Cooper said MySpace should confirm ages though services used by online vendors of lottery tickets and alcohol, and require parental permission for young users.

"MySpace can certainly take its own action to remove those sex offender profiles from their site," Cooper said. "They say they are doing that but we want to know ... exactly what steps they are taking."

Cooper has presented legislation to the North Carolina General Assembly that would make it a felony for registered sex offenders to use social networking sites.

In North Carolina last year, a former sheriff's deputy was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of molesting a 15-year-old boy he met on MySpace, and a Boiling Spring Lakes police officer was charged with the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl he communicated with on the site, Cooper said.

MySpace and other social networking sites allow users to create online profiles with photos, music and personal information, including hometowns and education. Users can send messages to one another and, in many cases, browse other profiles.

92 Comments

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  • yukonjohn3 May 16, 2007

    Good for you Myspace....and Liz....Convicted offenders have DONE their time...give them a break.

  • TAO May 15, 2007

    Liz, whether you'll be back to read it or not, you haven't done enough research on the subject, as evident in your comments. Your description of other comment authors as "average people" implies that you think you're special somehow; rest assured, you are one of us "average people" and you are as fallible as the rest of us. Being part of a sex crime in some way does not make a person any more or less credible when discussing the facts, and you seem to have pulled a one-sided view out of the facts. This article is about CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS. You should do some real research on the FACTS, not the HYPE, behind them. Play your own "Devil's Advocate" on topics, and look for the resources that the "other side" would use; if you review ALL the information, you might just find that you switch sides on an issue like this, where others may feel in a knee-jerk manner that anyone against beating up on sex offenders is "WRONG." It takes courage and intelligence to face the truth sometimes.

  • lizgoodsister May 15, 2007

    Against my better judgment I choose to come back to this forum and this is my last response to the insanity that has begun.
    I just want our children to grow up in a safe and loving environment. I speak out of Love and Compassion for all children of abuse.
    My response to those who care is that I have researched this subject for some time now and I never proclaimed to be an expert.
    If you have doubts about my claims just contact you local SBI, they are happy to give information and inform citizens as to how they can help.
    I will not be back to read any responses; it’s just a waste of time.

  • seriousbusiness May 15, 2007

    Can you say "Gestapo"?

  • alwaysCool May 15, 2007

    Ihearvoices- I did not say I agree, What I said was that their rights had not been taken away. Some people that have served a sentence for a felony has some of their rights taken away. Just by registering they do not loose those rights. A teenage boy(17) that dates a girl(15) and has sex with her can be charged with statuatory rape by her parents if she is underage, then he will have to register as a offender for the rest of his life. Sentencing can be up to 20 years in jail if a judge want to send him to jail. He is also limited on where he can live and work. Can not take future kids to a park. A young man(18) that rapes a teenage boy(13), but the man's family has money and is not charged because of the lawyers got it swept under the rug does not have to register. Of the 2, I would be more afraid of the 2nd person. He seeks to hurt and continue to do this, but now is more aware of the syetem and how to work it. The teen was just that, a teen that did not control himself.

  • TAO May 15, 2007

    I have yet to see one single time that these sex offender laws actually helped to stop a sex crime from happening. It's easy to say that it "WILL save children" or that it "WOULD HAVE saved me" in an effort to just keep the laws growing and becoming worse and worse. Remember that convicted sex offenders are humans as well, and remember that following the law is voluntary; there is punishment if you get caught, but the immediate LEGAL consequences of molesting a child are not law-driven. I say once more to the knee-jerk commentators that are posting here: ATTACK THE REAL ROOTS OF THE SEX CRIME PROBLEMS. Potential sex criminals show warning signs most of the time and need to be identified and offered treatment BEFORE they commit the crime. That's only the tip of the iceberg, but strengthening what happens after a child is raped won't stop the rape from happening, and if you set up "predator-free zones" and a "sex offender" wants to walk onto it to grab a kid, LAWS won't stop that!

  • TAO May 15, 2007

    lizgoodsister: You're not some kind of "grand authority" on the subject, even if you're a victim OR a predator. Child pornography is not a "billion dollar industry" and if you're going to make a statement like that, you had better come up with some real, authoritative, verifiable references to back it up. If you really did your homework, you'd read about how most child porn in the Internet age is traded freely, not paid for. It is swapped behind curtains of anonymity online, at no charge. Perhaps you failed to realize that with both making and receiving payment, the perpetrators lose a huge degree of anonymity. Once you charge a child porn item to your credit card, it's kind of hard to deny it. Also, how far are you willing to go for PERCEIVED safety for children? Are you willing to have your freedoms stripped? Once you allow one group's freedoms and rights to be infringed upon, it opens a Pandora's box. That's how Hitler did it: "sex offenders" are how he took away everyone's rights.

  • bill0 May 15, 2007

    luvcavaliers - I tried to read your links, but none of them seem to work.

    The simple fact is that this is the media scare story of the minute. It certainly doesn't "grossly transcend familial molestation." There were about 100,00 investigations of child abuse in NC last year. About 100 of the cases involved internet predators. That leave 99,900 cases of "traditional" crimes. These Ra-Ra campaigns by politicians sound like they are addressing the problem, but they are more about getting votes than protecting children.

  • CantNoOneHoldMeDown May 15, 2007

    Liz, no one has said that they don't want to protect the children. I 100% agree that they need to protect children and I know I can never be in a victims shoes because I myself have never been a victim. What my point is, I feel Roy Cooper is handling this myspace issue ENTIRELY the wrong way. There's other ways around this issue then to attack myspace which Roy Cooper the last few months has made it a point to do. I feel the way he is going about attacking myspace is silly and childish. What he is requesting of Myspace is something his secretary could do this week, Since someone on this forum was able to find some sex offenders in their areas myspace. Come on! How is it myspaces responsilbity to do the Police Dept. or the governments job?

  • lizgoodsister May 15, 2007

    This forum gives me insight as to what the average person thinks they know on the subject. It’s a huge awakening for me.
    I believe that this has never directly or indirectly affected most of you because it changes your whole life.
    Some victims become abusers and others choose to break the cycle of abuse and even advocate for others. A victim of abuse could never take this subject lightly. A victim could never mislead others by stating public urination = predator. That statement is a clever way to make others second-guess themselves. It is a way to distract people from the truth. Let’s stick to the truth, child pornography is a BILLION dollar industry funded by the rape and torture of babies and young children. Any error on the side of children is one I’m willing to make to protect them. Until you can walk in the shoes of a child that’s been molested, stay out of a forum you know nothing about!

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