A debate among online dating companies over whether their Web sites should be required to say if they do criminal background checks on clients has spilled over into state legislatures, reports USA Today. True.com, a Dallas-based dating service, last year began touting its criminal background checks and suggested legislation that would force online dating sites to say whether they conduct such checks. The proposal has been considered in California, Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Florida, and Michigan, but none has passed it. In Illinois, state Rep. John Bradley will push the idea. “It seems like a common-sense thing,” he says. “We have to do as much as we can to protect people from predators.”
Match.com spokeswoman Kristin Kelly says the rest of the industry is “united against” background checks, in part because such checks often are incomplete and can give clients a false sense of security. Such information is available from other Internet sites that specialize in offering background checks, Kelly says. “We just don’t think the checks are ready for prime time.” Her sentiments were echoed by the International Association of Dating websites, a group that represents more than 50 online dating services, says criminal background checks are too costly for most online services. Match.com says background checks would add $10 to $15 to the cost of its three-month membership. Last month, True.com filed a lawsuit in California against a man who the company says is a convicted sex offender who misrepresented himself on his application by denying he was a felon. It was a client who alerted the company to his background. True.com’s checks don’t include California’s sex-offender registry.