DALLAS -- Fighting to put an end to the growing list of online tragedies, today TRUE issued a call to action, urging lawmakers and consumers alike to support its nationwide legislation campaign aimed at better protecting online daters from interacting with criminals. This call to action comes on the heels of yet another online dating-related crime, reported late last week in upstate New York. The victim, a 43 year-old woman from Memphis, Tenn., was reportedly murdered by her husband of just one month, who had previously been arrested for harassment in the late 1980s.
Initiated this past July, TRUE's proposed safety legislation requires that all online dating providers prominently disclose on their Web sites whether they perform criminal background searches on their members. Currently, TRUE is the only online relationship service that actively promotes the safety of its users by performing extensive criminal screening on all of its communicating members.
In less than six months, TRUE has secured the support of legislators across the country, including Sen. John Carona and Rep. Will Hartnett of Texas, Representatives William J. Seitz and Scott Oelslager of Ohio, Delegate David Albo of Virginia, Rep. Kevin C. Ambler of Florida, and Representatives Jim Howell and Rick Johnson of Michigan. Furthermore, Michigan became the first state to pass the bill in its House in October, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 75 to 14. The Michigan Senate is expected to vote on the bill soon.
"According to Jupiter Research, the number of singles subscribing to Internet dating sites is expected to double over the next two years, which unfortunately means that even more people could fall victim to online predators," said Edgar Rains of Rapsheets, America's largest source of criminal records on the Internet. "While background screening is not entirely foolproof, it does offer an increased level of comfort that does not exist with other online dating sites right now."In addition to support from lawmakers, organizations including Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) have also joined TRUE’s cause. Founded in 1997 to fight online harassment through the education of the general public as well as law enforcement personnel, WHOA will work in partnership with TRUE to generate even more support by writing letters to legislators, testifying at hearings and urging consumers to support this safer dating effort and make their voices heard at THIS SITE
"We see up to 50 victims of online harassment/stalking each week," Jayne Hitchcock, president of WHOA states. "Some of these have had the unfortunate experience of meeting someone online, whether via an online dating service, chat room or personal ad, and have had a negative experience. So far, these victims (both men and women) have not had their lives taken as a result, or been physically abused, and we were able to stop the online harassment before it escalated to such a point. Putting a disclaimer on a Web site stating whether or not they provide a marital (see comment below) and/or criminal background check is a very simple solution and much easier than requiring every online dating service to do these checks. This then leaves a man or woman the option of joining that service, knowing what they can expect. And it could save their life."(Ms. Hitchcock is misguided. Currently there is NO WAY to check if someone is legally married or not!! That is why EOPC is supporting a NATIONAL MARRIAGE DATABASE - and we urge out reader to please CLICK HERE and sign the Petition to Congress)
"Since August, our background searches have prevented 218 individuals from communicating on our site. It's impossible to estimate how many victims were saved by this extremely simple procedure," said Herb Vest, founder and CEO of TRUE. "As an industry, I feel it's our obligation to provide members with the most extensive, accurate and trustworthy information available regarding potential suitors so they can make successful and, most importantly, safer relationship decisions."
as always - our thanks to OneOfSeven for her eagle eye in sending this to us! - Fighter