Following threat of legal action from eight different state attorneys in the US, MySpace has agreed to hand over details on registered sex offenders that had a profile on its site.
Originally, the News Corporation-owned social networking site was reluctant to reveal any data, citing privacy laws, but was aware that following legal requests they were obliged to release the information.
Although MySpace has already identified and deleted the accounts of some 7,000 people which it suspected to be sex offenders, the company has held the personal data from these profiles.
Last December MySpace joined forces with Sentinel Tech Holding and together they developed Sentinel Safe, a program that sorted through the 180 million MySpace member pages to find possible sex offenders.
MySpace CSO Hemanshu Nigam said: “We have zero tolerance for sexual predators on MySpace and took the initiative to create this first-of-its-kind tool ourselves because nothing previously existed.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with the attorneys general on all future efforts to make the internet a safer place for teens.”
Throughout the US it is possible for registered sex offenders, who are no longer on parole, to sign up for a MySpace account or indeed an account on any other dating or social networking site. Currently there are 20,000 such offenders in the US.
New Jersey is planning to introduce a law that would ban sex offenders from using the internet completely, but MySpace is asking state administrators to pass laws requiring these offenders to register their email address.
However, it is easy to sign up for and hold several email addresses at once and there is nothing to stop sex offenders from hiding behind this method of anonymity.
By Marie Boran