Online dating bill passed but ducking some responsibility

An interesting piece came up earlier this week about the laws governing online dating. For those of us who have been hanging around dating sites long enough to be given a ticket for it, we know that just because someone comes across as gentile or kind in their profile or sounds cute in their private messages, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what they’re saying’s gonna pass any lie-detector test.

And to be honest, anyone who familiarises themselves with the ‘dating site safety’ pages, for those credible sites that take the time to post them irrespective of whether it’s the law or not, should have a good idea of what not to do, even if they don’t recognise the intent by a fraudulent ne’er-do-well hiding behind a ‘borrowed’ dating site profile.

However, some dating sites’ proclamations of adhering to laws may be misleading, even though the intention is to ensure the prospective member that theirs is a safe haven to look for their one true love online.

In Illinois last week a dating site safety bill (HB4083, if anyone’s collecting bill numbers like train-spotting) passed through the house by a huge 83-26 majority in favour of forcing all dating sites in the state to categorically state on their pages whether or not their members are vetted and background checked. Great – this is an advancement in online security that the dating community has been seeking for some time. But then some bright spark has only gone and spoilt the party!

The bill itself is, in essence, the same one that passed through New Jersey and New York four and two years ago respectively. And some of the more conscientious dating site owners already comply to all the legislation held within the document. For those sites that wish to attract singles who want and expect to do their online thang in 100% assuredness that everything’s kosher, they will have to follow a similar lead.

So, that’s it, then? Sign up, check that the single has been thoroughly checked out and away you go, you’re certain your prospect is safe to date, right? Nuh-uh. Wrong.

The problem, as highlighted by many a US dating review site, is that there is no industry standard as to what is acceptable as a background check. Okay, the dating site may state that a background check has been carried out, but is that just confirming who the prospective single is who they say they are or does it involve a criminal check, which in their own rite vary from state to state?

Or, has there indeed been a criminal check carried out and the single been given a clean bill of health because the registered name doesn’t match one found on any arrest or charge sheet? Let’s face it, if a scammer was going to choose to steal someone’s identity, they’re hardly going to steal one that appeared on Crimewatch UK, are they?

So, yes, we applaud Illinois for stating its intent; all we need now is for a definitive code that constitutes what a verified background check is, and we’ll all be happy bunnies this Easter, won’t we? What will come first – the checking or the egg?

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