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5/15/2007
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States Demand Answers About Sex Offenders On MySpace

Eight attorneys general sent a letter to MySpace, saying that thousands of registered sex offenders have created profiles on the social networking site.

Top prosecutors from eight states want MySpace to tell them how many registered sex offenders have MySpace accounts.

Eight attorneys general sent a letter to MySpace (PDF) Monday, saying that thousands of registered sex offenders have created profiles on the social networking site.

"MySpace is a treasure trove of potential victims for child predators," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a prepared statement. "Sex offenders have no business being on this site, and we believe MySpace has a responsibility to get them off the site."

They have also requested information on how many offenders MySpace has identified, what its employees are doing to warn users who may have communicated with the predators, how many sex offenders' profiles have been removed, and what MySpace is doing to notify law enforcement authorities about the predators using its site.

"As our states' chief legal officers, we are gravely concerned that sexual predators are using MySpace to lure children into face-to-face encounters and other dangerous activities," the attorneys general wrote.

The attorneys general -- from Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania -- pointed out that MySpace announced five months ago that it would compare its members with Sentinel Tech Holding's database of registered sex offenders and subsequent reports indicated that there were thousands of matches with MySpace members.

"Perhaps thousands more sexual predators -- not registered or using fictitious names -- are lurking on your Web site," the attorneys general wrote. "We remain concerned about the design of your site, the failure to require parental permission, and the lack of safeguards necessary to protect our children."

The attorneys general said that in 2006 the media reported almost 100 crimes involving adults who used MySpace to prey or attempt to prey on children in the United States. They pointed to two cases in North Carolina, which is leading the charge to get answers from MySpace.

A former sheriff's deputy from was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old North Carolina boy he met on MySpace. A North Carolina police officer was also arrested and charged with raping a 14-year-old girl he met on MySpace.

North Carolina, Connecticut, and other states have introduced legislation that would require social networking sites, like MySpace, to get parental permission before minors can register. In North Carolina, Cooper wants the legislature to pass a law that would make it a felony for convicted sex offenders to join social networking sites that include children.

The letter requests a list of all names of registered sex offenders using MySpace and sets a deadline of May 29 for MySpace to respond.

MySpace representatives did not immediately respond to calls requesting for comment. Representatives have said in the past that they support state efforts to ban sex offenders from MySpace.

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