Privacy 03/22/2007

Illinois Online Dating Bill Defeated

Today the Illinois legislature did what the Florida legislature wouldn’t do – crush a bad online dating bill in committee.

I had a premonition that things would go well in Springfield. Hey, it’s the Land of Lincoln and Illinois is the state where I was born!

But superstitions aside, the members of a House
Judiciary Committee
really carried the day here with their probing
questions and clued-in skepticism about HB 563, the Internet Dating Disclosure
and Safety Awareness Act.

Take Rep. Jim Sacia for
instance. He’s an ex-FBI agent that really knew the difference between background checks and criminal screenings. He said that criminal
screenings—the kind contemplated by all of the state online dating bills, were incomplete
and too easily defeated to mean anything.

First, Rep. Sacia described the kind of thorough background check
that makes use of lots of input data to dig deep into one’s personal history.
It requires such personal information as social security numbers
and fingerprinting. This is the kind of analysis I had performed on me before I
was admitted to the D.C., Georgia and Virginia bars.

Then he described the criminal background screenings that True.com
obtains from Rapsheets. This check requires only credit card information and a
birth date. But it only comes back with felony conviction and registered sex offender
information. 

But here’s the whammy: in many states–including Florida and Illinois–only
a small percentage of counties report to a central database accessible by companies
that provide criminal background screenings for online dating providers.

So…a criminal screening provides limited data from a limited
pool of people…and legislators are—through mandated disclosures—wanting to
imply that they’re good for consumers?

Rep. Sacia understood the false sense of security that would
result from passing the bill. But so too did many of the other members of the
committee. And they overwhelmingly voted against HB 563.

Which makes me feel for the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bradley. I
think he’s just one of the many legislators that have been bamboozled by Herb
Vest and True.com. Related to this, my colleague Steve DelBianco has a blog post where he explains a recent New York Times article about True and hopes that legislators aren’t fooled by the false
promises behind True.com’s propaganda.

Some of you may remember my post Discouraged Advocate
Seeks Legislators that Refuse to Coddle
where I describe my jadedness upon
coming back from Tallahassee. For now, color me optimistic.

-Braden

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