It really has become a saga. The internet is abuzz with it. First, eight attorneys general requested [pdf of request] that Myspace turn over the data it has collected via the Sentinel database of registered sex offenders on MySpace.Then, MySpace said that it had deleted sexual predator profiles.
The action comes a day after eight U.S. attorneys general demanded that the News Corp.-owned company hand over offenders’ names and addresses, and delete their profiles from among MySpace’s 175 million user base.”We’ve made it clear we have a zero tolerance policy against convicted sex offenders,” MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We’ve said numerous times that the goal was to delete them.”
Finally, MySpace refused to turn over the data to the attorneys general, saying that it was prohibited by Federal privacy laws from doing so, unless ordered to via subpoena or warrant.
Christian Genetski, an attorney who has represented MySpace, said the Electronic Communications Privacy Act requires subpoenas, court orders or search warrants, depending on the information sought.”It’s a clearly defined law that most providers and prosecutors understand and work with on a daily basis,” said Genetski, who covers information security and Internet enforcement at a firm in Washington, D.C. “My understanding is (the attorneys general) want the private personal information, and that’s clearly the information the ECPA protects.”
Okay. So you probably know all of this already. So what do I think of it? I think the AsG are barking up the wrong tree. Really, how difficult is it for anyone to create a profile on MySpace? It doesn’t require that you enter your actual real first name (and I doubt that they can require that anyway) or last name or your real age (if you lie about it, so what? They’ll boot you. Boohoo.) or where you live or anything. Try it. Set up a completely fictitious profile on MySpace. What’s that going to get them? How are they going to prove that it was indeed the sexual predators that set up these profiles? It may just serve to publicize the issue, which may not be a bad tactic if that the was the goal.
What bothers me is those that may have inadvertently been deleted during MySpace’s “purge” of sexual predators. Then you’re almost forced to provide your real information to exonerate yourself. That’s guilty until proven innocent.
Instead of hounding MySpace, hound parents. Yeah, those people whose jobs the State is being forced to do. Perhaps parents need a “how to protect your kids from the dangers of the internet” class. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t be an idiot and give out your personal information to strangers on the web. Don’t talk to strangers on the phone. Don’t agree to meet strangers alone. Yada, yada, yada.
In loco parentis no more.
Edit: So, in hindsight, maybe my tone was a little harsh toward parents. My point still remains, though. Greater control at home means less problems on the internet.