State official: MySpace finds sex offenders among users

MySpace has identified more than 29,000 registered sex offenders

MySpace has identified more than 29,000 registered sex offenders among those registered to use its site -- more than four times what the company said in May it had found from an investigation, according to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Cooper released the number Sunday in a statement supporting proposed legislation in North Carolina that would require a parent's permission before a person under 18 could join a social networking site.

"[The 29,000] includes just the predators who signed up using their real names and not the ones who failed to register or used fake names," Cooper said in the statement. Cooper is one of eight state attorneys general who asked MySpace in May to turn over the names of users who are registered sex offenders.

Although MySpace originally balked at turning over the data citing state and federal privacy laws, it finally did so later that month after being subpoenaed for it.

At that time, MySpace said publicly that it had uncovered about 7,000 registered sex offenders among its users. MySpace did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

The North Carolina legislation being proposed suggests that social networking sites verify a parent's identity through a public database and then follow up with a phone call or letter to ensure that the parent actually gave the child permission to use the site. "Only with a parent's consent could a child create a personal page for the public to view," according the statement from Cooper. "By knowing their members' true ages, the online social networking sites would also be ... keeping predators away from children."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced in June that his state had arrested seven sex offenders who had registered on MySpace.

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
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