HB 1035 / SB 1768: Background Checks for Online Dating

Apr 14 -- The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 5-to-2 in favor of HB 1035, and members of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Services Committee voted 6-to-2 in support of SB 1768. The bills would require providers of online dating services to disclose if they do or do not conduct criminal background checks on their clients. When True first applied the background checks to their database, True.com screened out 11% of its site applicants. In Florida alone, there were more than 475 instances where site applicants were found to have sexual offenses felony convictions or provided false or inaccurate information. "We have an opportunity to help Florida's users of online dating services. They have a right to know if criminal background checks are or are not being conducted on members they are talking to online and possibly meeting," said HB1035's sponsor Representative Kevin Ambler. "This disclosure requirement is an important public safety measure that will help safeguard honest Floridians from dangerous sexual predators and convicted felons looking for potential victims." The legislation further requires firms who do run criminal background checks to disclose that the screening is not fool-proof and also to provide consumers with safer dating tips. RELEASE @ YAHOO

Mark Brooks: The legislation still needs to get past another committee stage before final vote. ConfirmID was an early attempt at ID confirmation by FriendFinder. It bombed. Users won't pay for background checks en masse unless it is incorporated into standard service offerings. When a man is interested in a woman he needs to communicate... a. he's interested b. he's safe. On the one hand, the more online dating can improve over the real world (i.e. meeting someone at a bar), the better the industry will do. On the other hand, background checks are a tough pill to swallow, especially when rammed down the industry's throat with legislation. True.com's CEO has had practice at driving through legislation. HD Vest was based on an illegal business model. Herb Vest made it legal. This juggernaut will not stop. Time to take the background checks legislation more seriously.

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