Can online dating services enhance their clients’ safety by conducting criminal background screenings of would-be daters? Last month, New Jersey became the first state to enact a law requiring the sites to disclose whether they perform background checks, reports the Associated Press. True.com, which already does such screenings, hopes other states will follow suit.
True.com’s critics contend that the site’s screening method – running names through state databases of criminal records – is incomplete and easily thwarted, potentially creating a false sense of security for customers. “It’s so superficial that it’s worthless,” said Braden Cox of NetChoice, a coalition of e-commerce companies that includes Yahoo, AOL and other major players in online dating. Match.com, a large dating services, said it had been assessing online background checks for six years and concluded they offered no extra protection. “Match.com is disappointed New Jersey has enacted a flawed and unconstitutional law, and we will explore opportunities to challenge it,” said the company. The New Jersey law, similar to ones considered in other states, requires online dating services to notify their customers in the state whether criminal background screenings have been conducted.