MySpace Hands Over Names of 90,000 Sex Offenders

Bob Preston
HARTFORD, Conn. — MySpace today handed over the names of 90,000 registered sex offenders who had registered at the popular social networking site and been removed over the last two years.

The move came at the behest of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who was acting on a deal made last year between MySpace and 49 states to help identify sex offenders online.

Besides following up on the deal, Blumenthal was enforcing a law called the KIDS Act, and it requires that sex offenders send their real email and instant-message information to the National Sex Offender Registry.

But despite the seemingly unassailable nature of these actions, civil rights advocates and researchers see some problems. A recent Harvard University study indicated that supposed threats to minors online was overblown.

"Minors are not equally at risk online," the report said. "Those who are most at risk often engage in risky behavior and have difficulties in other parts of their lives."

Free Speech Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Douglas has also voiced concerns about these kinds of laws because of the fluid nature of the phrase "sex offender."

"I understand how no sane person could be sympathetic with a certain kind of sex offender, but there are a wide range of sex offenders," he told XBIZ.

For example, Douglas described a case in California where an 18-year-old man drove by his old high school and clicked his teeth to flirt at some passing students. Because a "minor" is anyone under 18, flirting with those students was enough to land that man, who had just turned 18, on a sex offender list.