Social Dating Sites and Prohibitions on Sex Offenders
Back in the day, couples would meet at family gatherings, parties, bars or church outings. Today, in an age of electronic connectivity, old-fashioned courtship can seem quaint. Like so much else, dating has gone digital, and more and more people are turning to online dating sites to find love — often successfully. Of course, the Web contains dangers as well as opportunities. Internet crimes are not an urban myth. But excessive concern about so-called predators should not lead to excessive infringement of the right to free speech and association, either. In one recent case, a woman was sexually harassed by a man she met on Match.com. It was later established that the man who was granted membership to the dating site had a long history of sexual assault crimes against women met on the Internet, crimes easily apparent with a simple search. The woman aimed to hold Match.com accountable for not checking subscribers to the site against the national sex offender registry. The woman settled the case after the company agreed to screen members against both state and federal sex offender registries. Match.com is not alone. Other online dating sites including eHarmony have agreed to increase their efforts to remove sexual predators, financial scammers and identity thieves from their sites.