OPW - July 18 - I caught Ross and Max for a few minutes at iDate after we saw a presentation on background checks legislation. Here's what they had to say on the topic of background checks. - Mark Brooks
Mark: We have Ross Williams here from White Label Dating and Max who runs Red Hot Pie out of Australia. Gentlemen, we just saw a session on background checks. What is your opinion on how the industry should proceed with background checks?
Ross: The thing that absolutely spooks me is that there is no international body for online dating. The people who make the legislation have no one to talk to. There is no lobbying group. These people will make the legislation regardless.
So if we want to make sure the legislation works with the industry rather than against the industry there needs to be an association that can help lobby in the best interests of the industry and the best long-term interests of consumers.
Max: Even though the background checks are trying to be protective they lead people into a false sense of security. I think that's the real danger. I’m a big believer that people need to take responsibility of their own actions and their own safety and security.
Mark: In April, Match.com said within 90 days they were going to launch sex offender checks. So they are going to check against the National Sex Offender Registry. What do you think will be the effect on the industry when they do that?
Ross: There is no guarantee to the consumer of the safety of their database. It is a positive step, in certain ways. But actually I think [background checks] even give a false sense of security, as Max says, because people lie. If I was in the Sex Offender Registry and I knew that Match checked that, would I use my details? Probably not. Would I use fake details with a prepaid MasterCard? Probably yes.
So all it does is put people into hiding. I think the route we must all take within this industry is the education of consumers and providing a safe environment and good customer care and support. In the UK we offer a free phone support for our customers and so if they have questions they can speak to someone.
Mark: If Match is offering sex offender checks do you think sex offenders are going to drift to other dating sites?
Ross: They will go; anyone will go where there is the greatest opportunity. So it is far better to give people the education and teach them how to date in a safe way.
Mark: Max, you specialize in the sexy side of internet dating. What would your members in Australia feel about this?
Max: We haven’t had a criminal offense or an assault or sexual related charge. It's not an issue on our site.