Be on the lookout for dating site stalkers
Police in London have reminded members of matchmaking sites to be extremely careful to whom they surrender their personal information. This warning is issued as an investigation starts by the Met in London into claims that a man began inappropriately following a lady he had met on a dating site, then began to stalk her across the internet, including her facebook page.
As the popularity of dating websites grows as a medium for both young and mature singles alike as a place to begin the initial contact process of a relationship, members of the constabulary have very real fears over online safety.
There concern lies at the heart, the magnet, of the online search for romance as they single out free dating sites as a potential hotbed for ‘sex offenders to carry out their criminality undetected’.
Many, many members of the online dating community have dipped their toes into the waters of free dating sites before taking the plunge and upgrading to a paid matchmaking site. Whilst the need for this type of service is recognised, police warn that without security checks and the necessity to enter credit card information, who is to say that the potential date you have lined up is either who they say they are or do not have a criminal background in relate offences?
This is very much a catch 22 situation. Even though the online dating community has worked hard to cast off the seedy image, which haunted it in its early days, many potential online romantics still have massive doubts about entering their credit card details online when there is nothing obvious to pay for, upfront.
The latest investigation follows the conviction of man in October who was jailed for four months after posting sexually explicit images of his partner online and then invited her nearst and dearest to view them, via e-mail.
It also coincides with the first anniversary of the Beatbullying organisation’s march on Downing Street to improve awareness of the need for online security, not just for the dating community but for children and the social media generation, at large. Almost 1,000,000 petitions were delivered to deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
The issue, it seems, is not the need for a new law to monitor cyber-stalking, but enforcement of the ones in place.
In theory, anyone looking for love online should be able to post as much about themselves in order to attract a potential partner without the fear of retribution. In place, we have at least four laws to protect us from abuse, online line:
• Electronic Communications Act 2003,
• the Harassment Act 1997,
• the Computer Misuse Act 1990, and
• the Malicious Communications Act 1988
Sadly, these laws only make the headlines when someone is convicted of violating one of the acts; the first official prosecution was in 2008 for facebook harassment and, more recently, a troll was jailed for his evil attacks o innocent parties on social networks.
Even the police admit, “the majority of clients are unlikely to have ulterior or dubious motives for using dating sites,” although, next time you choose to join an online personals site, it is worth considering the added security that a paid dating site delivers over a free one, until the tru.ly app is developed for global usage.