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article imageSex Offenders Roam Free on MySpace in Canada Thanks to Laws and Politics

By Chris Hogg     Jul 26, 2007 in Internet
The system that found 29,000 registered sex offenders on MySpace this week has been applauded everywhere but Canada. Reports now say restrictive Canadian law and politics are preventing companies from getting sex offenders off the social network.
Digital Journal -- Yesterday, reports about MySpace and sex offenders flooded the Internet; out of the 80 million subscribers in the U.S., a startling 29,000 were found to be convicted sex offenders (the previous figure given by Myspace in May was 7,000). And this number only includes sex offenders who used their real names when registering.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that "screams for action," while North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper prepared a seven-page document saying why MySpace is dangerous.
In response, MySpace issued a prepared public statement, reading: "We partnered with Sentinel Tech to build technology to remove registered sex offenders from our site. Through this innovative technology, we're pleased that we've successfully identified and deleted these registered sex offenders and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead."
But all is not well in Canada, where the software's creator told information laws are preventing his company from tracking offenders.
Sentinel Tech CEO, John Cardillo, says the problem stems from the fact the Canadian government is not opening up information to companies like his to input the predator database into a detection system.
While the U.S. government is complying, Canada seems to be dragging its feet. Cardillo said it was no longer a technical challenge, but a political one. "We can't even work with any private companies or law-enforcement agencies because we simply can't get hold of the data," Cardillo said.
The sex offenders database is used by police to gather info and investigate sexual crimes. The public does not have access to the registry.
"A review of media reports through the first six months of 2007 found more than 100 criminal incidents involving adults who used MySpace, the largest social networking site, to prey or attempt to prey on children," Cooper told InformationWeek. "That's double the number of such incidents reported in the media in 2006. That's only one website, and doesn't include incidents that went unreported."
Cordilla, a former NY police officer, explained his company can input records into his company's database to allow investigators to search by name, photo-recognition technology, and various other criteria. Cordilla's company signed a seven-figure deal with News Corp-owned MySpace in May.
In Canada, the sex offender list contained about 2,000 names as of April 2006, but until records are released to the public, sex offenders will go unchecked by the private industry.
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