MySpace Sex Offender Profile Deletions Do Not Apply to Canada

Q Boyer
OTTAWA — The measures MySpace has taken to delete the profiles of site members who are registered sex offenders cannot be extended to the Canadian MySpace market due to Canadian privacy laws, according to the CEO of the company contracted by MySpace to help find profiles posted by sex offenders.

“We can’t even work with any private companies or law-enforcement agencies because we simply can’t get hold of the data,” Sentinel Tech Holdings CEO John Cardillo said in an article on Canada.com. “It’s going to take a few daring members of Parliament to change this.”

In Canada, the public does not have access to the national sex offender registry, which Canadian law enforcement uses to aid them in investigations, and is not published publicly the way that similar registries in the U.S. are.

Canadian attorney Paul Kent-Snowsell told XBIZ that the registry is not publicly available in part due to concerns over backlash against offenders.

“Our government has determined that you cannot rehabilitate a sex offender if the public knows who they are, because of the NIMBY effect.” Kent-Snowsell said.

“NIMBY” is an abbreviation that often comes up in the context of zoning debates and business location disputes; it stands for “Not in My Back Yard.”

“The government is not going to make this information publicly available unless it is determined that the person presents a very high risk to the general population,” Kent-Snowsell said. “Generally, that information is going to be first given to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), and then disseminated from there.”

Kent-Snowsell said that the registry itself, which is not divided into different classifications or levels of offenders, also contains DNA information about offenders, which is put in a DNA bank to assist with sex crime investigations.

In cases where a sex crime has taken place, a judge “may, but not must, make certain orders” before an offender is added to the sex offender registry, Kent-Snowsell said, adding that some offenses which are considered sex crimes in the U.S. would not even necessarily result in a listing in the Canadian sex offender registry.

Canada’s sex offender registry was put into effect in 2004. According to Canada.com, as of April 2006, the registry contained 12,000 names.

While MySpace’s attempt to purge sex offenders from its listings is a private and voluntary effort, many state legislatures across the country are seeking to pass laws that would either prohibit minors from posting profiles on social networking sites, or to require a parent’s consent before posting such a profile. Other measures have been drafted that would require age and identity verification systems be adopted by social networking sites — a requirement that the federal government also has tried to impose on adult sites through legislation like the Child Online Protection Act.

Kent-Snowsell said that such measures are unlikely to be adopted in Canada, given the country’s current privacy statutes and protocols.

“It’s fair to say that Canadian privacy laws and protections are stronger than those in the U.S.,” Kent-Snowsell said.