Approval of True.com Legislation in Florida - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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Lee Phillips

Well, just because it's gained a couple of commitee's aproval, doesn't mean it'll pass when it comes before the entire state senate. Let's hope that Floridian legislators have the sense to see through this bill for the donkey that it really is.

Lee Phillips
Application Developer/Consultant

Steve Winkler

This insanity must stop.

Legislators in other states have already called this out for what it is. Let's hope that Florida's elected officials realize that this is a bogus attempt at PR and market share.

It's funny how some people have nothing better to do than to make the lives and business of others more difficult.

Let the consumer decide what is right, not the government. If it is true that consumers need background checks then True.com is already the winner. Correct?

Glenn Gasner

Does anyone know who we should contact about this? If someone posted a name and phone number or address (I'm thinking to talk to the legislators, not to harass True.com people) this would be a great place to post it.

Markus

When asking members on plentyoffish which other dating sites they used the majority said myspace.com How is this legislation going to effect myspace and friendster? They have a search for dating, relationships, sex etc all on a local level. No matter how much they protest many consider them a dating service.

TC

Sadly, the high-profile efforts of True will reinforce the mistaken belief that online dating is inherently more dangerous than meeting total strangers, drunk, in a dimly lit bar (or elsewhere!). While their misguided campaign may get them a few more sign-ups, they are ultimately setting back the industry as a whole.

Glenn Gasner

Everyone should email the Speaker of the House at:
[email protected]
and give their opinion on this (make sure to reference HB 1035 / SB 1768: Background Checks for Online Dating). If you want to go the extra mile (I'm doing this right now) you can go through and individually email the representatives using a web form at:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/legislators.aspx
There are a lot of them, and you have to give your name and email address before they'll let you write, and you have to write each one individually, but I'm up into the H's right now, it'd be nice to know that a second person went through and sent them all a note too.

meet singles

I bet he is doing bit more than just e-mailing his representative. Not to put down a fellow man's attempts I went along and emailed some of the reps you mentioned on the 16th. Doubt any will respond.

Number 1


Interesting topic, I hope they get an handle on it, and make online dating safe. Everyone would feel more secure,and happy.

Nannette Thacker

Thanks, Glenn Glasner. I sent the below mail to the speaker address and posted your mail in our forum on this topic to encourage our members to also write:

This message is in regard to: HB 1035 / SB 1768: Background Checks for Online Dating

I oppose this legislation. I own ChristianSinglesDating.com. We keep a small membership of conservative Christian members.

We don't require personal information on a member, for member privacy. We do encourage members to find out personal information on a person before meeting them in person, and even contacting their pastor and church. But we certainly don't ask for a member's social security number, and don't require they give their last name. We can't even force them to give their real name - they can easily create a bogus name. So we plug in some bogus name they have provided in a background check and come up with a squeeky clean person? This legislation is rife with possible fraud and errors. What if a valid person has the same name as a criminal? or visa versa? ANYONE out to defraud someone is certainly not going to submit a valid name or SSN. And our members simply are not required to pay to use our site, so how can those members be checked? Even names input for credit card submissions can be invalid or inaccurate. Some members may use the card of a friend or family member. How can we PROVE that the person we are checking is actually the person? We can't! This legislation makes the member think they are safe when they may NOT be. It provides a false sense of security which the bogus will only take advantage of.

Wouldn't it be FAR BETTER to offer legislation that requires that background checks be offered for FREE? Just like the new legislation that allows people to receive a credit check at least once a year...
http://ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm
...how about allow a given person so many free background checks a year on someone else? Then that would help out the single people who find someone in a bar, or supermarket, or ball game, or church as well as meeting online. A person doesn't need a background check on every single person they meet on the internet, only on that special someone they want to start communicating with. Or at least pass legislation to make background checks more affordable so that folks can obtain them easily.

The legislation I've seen requires phrases on the home page which are too specific. Each state also seems to require a different phrase. How can we post every single phrase on our home page from every state without filling up our home page with all these required phrases? We don't know what state a person is from when they hit our home page. The bill doesn't say this phrase or something "similar." And what about those sites that optionally offer background checks with profiles. Some profiles may be flagged that they have been checked. The required phrases don't allow for alternative measures such as optional checks. Even if these bills were passed, the require phrases don't cover all the possibilities - either we do offer them or we don't offer them... but nothing in regard to we optionally offer them (with profiles being clearly marked).

The Florida bill states:
(b) Disclose clearly and conspicuously, to all website
visitors residing in this state, on the provider's homepage ...
within the top
one-third of the webpage, that the online dating service
provider has not conducted criminal background checks under
paragraph (a). The disclosure shall state the following:
"WARNING: [NAME OF PROVIDER] HAS NOT CONDUCTED FELONY
OR SEXUAL OFFENSE BACKGROUND CHECKS ON ITS MEMBERS."
The proposed Texas bill required it say:
"IMPORTANT NOTICE: WE HAVE NOT CONDUCTED CRIMINAL FELONY OR SEXUAL
OFFENSE BACKGROUND CHECKS ON OUR COMMUNICATING MEMBERS."

What if all 50 states eventually proposed such a bill and all required different phrases on the home page? There is nothing to indicate consolidating these phrases or an optional background check. The bill only allows for "we do or we don't." We don't know if the person is from Florida or any other state when they hit our home page. So how can we know which disclaimer to display without displaying all of them?

I can see where a SECULAR website might have 11% of their members fail a criminal check. Those sites open themselves up for the riff-raff, scum of society by their blatant sexually based advertising. Our site, a Christian site, does not cater to those types of people. They don't use our site except for the rare case where someone wants to stir up trouble among Christians, and with our member reporting feature, we receive reports on them right away and they are removed.

Many lump all dating sites into the same category as the popular secular sites that make millions. Not our site. We don't make millions. We conduct our site as a ministry to help those less fortunate. We make enough to support our family and make ends meet. We are still a high-quality website, offering a lot of services to our members, but we are not greedy. We can't afford the huge advertising budgets demanded now a days. This legislation might put us out of business, and these other sites don't cater to helping the less fortunate. Who would take up this category?

We take detailed measures to protect our members, such as asking questions on the profile about an interest in pornography, and allowing the marital status of "Married." What members don't know is that if they do select those options, their profile is deleted. We keep a prominent link with profiles to report members for online or offline behavior and will take immediate action to remove them if we find online behavior in mail or chat to be inappropriate. We flag their accounts if we receive a bad report of offline behavior. Depending on varying circumstances, we deal with that too. We block IP addresses of known scammers. We do comparisons with every online mail sent for common scammer phrases and auto-delete those accounts. We send out mass mails to members when a member is deleted for abuse to warn them, in case they are already communicating offline with this person. We provide articles and surveys on dating safety. We have more features to allow safety, which I won't go into.

Our site is a world-wide service and was begun to allow those less fortunate to also be able to find a mate. As a result, we offer thousands of gift memberships, hardship memberships with an extremely low rate based on applying on the honor system. We have a ruby membership for those more fortunate to purchase which allows them to communicate with all members online, paid or free, thus allowing the free members to communicate without paying. Everything is catered to helping members out financially. If we have to charge an extra fee for a background check, which costs FAR more than our membership does and certainly can't be recouped for our thousands and thousands of free members, then we could not offer free services or affordable services. We have many missionaries that use our website who simply can't afford a membership. What of our non-U.S. members? How would we background check them?

We did a survey on our site on this legislation and the members of our site who responded do not agree that this should be passed.
http://www.christiansinglesdating.com/s/forum/readThread.asp?forumcat_id=1&topic_id=2403

May God bless you,

Nannette Thacker
http://www.ChristianSinglesDating.com
Successfully matching Christians since 1993!

Larry Thacker

I sent these comments to the speaker address given by Glenn Glasner:

I am opposed to this bill:
HB 1035 / SB 1768: Background Checks for Online Dating

However, I want to ask something... does your bill take into consideration the required criminal or background check? You can go to any website and there are background checks from a few dollars upwards to $300!

If websites are required to do a $129 criminal check, they could not afford to offer their services. But if they are offering the $6.95 background check, that would assume that some really important information is being left off. For instance, the cheap background checks are performed on ONE state. What if the person is a felon in other states? The cost of a countrywide report is $29.95, much more than what most dating sites charge for membership fees. But even that is not thorough.

Your bill is titled: Background checks... However, background checks I've seen offered seem to be more detailed than criminal checks.

Isn't the bill offering a false sense of security by making the user feel there has been a thorough background check performed, when in fact the website likely took the cheapest route possible and may not even be checking the correct person?

This bill isn't going to help anyone, but is instead going to confuse people and make them think a person is safe when they truly are not.

Larry Thacker
http://www.christiansinglesdating.com


I am not affiliated with the below site, but here are examples of pricing:
http://www.efindoutthetruth.com/
BACKGROUND CHECKS

Basic
Background Check $19.95
Gold
Background Check $49.95
Platinum
Background Check $69.95
Centurion
Background Check $99.95
Due Diligence
Background Check $299.95
Child / Elderly
Background Check $179.95


CRIMINAL RECORDS

Statewide Criminal
Database Record Search $8.95
Sex Offender / Predator Criminal Search $6.95
Statewide Department of
Corrections Search $6.95
Nationwide Federal Prison
Inmate Search $9.95
Nationwide Federal Records
Criminal and Civil $19.95
Statewide
Criminal Record Search $24.95
On-Site Countywide
Criminal Record Search $29.95

Lee Phillips

Let me just first state once again that I don't support the notion of background checks for online dating websites.

That said, I thought I should point out to Mr. Thacker that the background checks conducted by True.com or any other user of Rapsheets.com do cover multiple states. In fact, I believe only those states that do not make their criminal records publicly available are not covered. For more info on which states those are I would suggest following up with Rapsheets.com.

The problem isn't a limited amount of data since there are over 170 million records available. It isn't price since bulk pricing is available for as little as $5 per check. The problem is that the background checks are so easily circumvented as to make them useless.

Lee Phillips
Application Developer/Consultant

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