Rep. King Calls for Sex Offender Screening by Dating Sites

Q Boyer
WASHINGTON — A resolution under consideration by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee would “encourage” employers and dating websites to screen applicants against sex offender registries and to “expeditiously implement” registration requirements introduced by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

First proposed by Rep. Pete King, R-NY, in July, H.R. 572 was referred to the House subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in August. The resolution amounts to a call for more stringent screening for sex offenders, with the only specific type of business mentioned by name being “online dating sites.”

The text of the resolution is brief, and provides no indication that dating sites would be required to perform sex offender screening, instead stating that the House “encourages…. online dating sites to check the names of site members and individuals seeking site membership with the federal and state sex offender registries, and take appropriate measures to prevent inappropriate use of such sites, including prohibiting access to individuals that are listed on such registries.”

The resolution similarly urges “employers to check the names of potential employees with the federal and state sex offender registries when hiring for positions that involve teaching, supervising, interacting with, or working in the general vicinity of children.”

The third provision of the resolution is aimed at state, county and municipal governments, and encourages such bodies to “expeditiously implement at least the registration requirements described in title I of the Walsh Act before July 27, 2009, and to the greatest extent possible implement stricter requirements than those so described.”

Asked about the potential significance of the resolution for online dating sites, Free Speech Coalition Chairman Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ that the resolution likely won’t amount to anything more than a public relations maneuver on King’s part.

“Typically, such resolutions are more acts of ego and publicity than of significance,” Douglas said.