Match.com announced that they will begin checking the National Sex Offender Registry when people sign up to use their online dating service today. What is truly amazing is that they were not already doing so. Perhaps I was remiss in thinking that this would be a logical thing for a dating service to be doing. Regardless, they are doing so now.
The company has started doing this in large part because of a huge lawsuit filed in California by a woman that says she was raped by a Match.com date. The lawsuit claimed that the man forced his way into her apartment on the second date and proceeded to rape her. The man named in the lawsuit allegedly had six different sexual battery charges in his history in Los Angeles County, not to mention anywhere else.
The woman says that because Match.com did not screen for predators that are known, that she was at risk. This seems contrary to what Match.com had in their terms of service.
In the terms of service and enrollment agreement on Match.com, it clearly states that individuals are solely responsible for any and all meetings and results between dates. In other words, Match.com has no responsibility when damages are incurred from meeting someone on the site and seeing them. (paraphrased from the site) The terms are rather clear, but that does not seem to be stopping the case from moving forward.
The woman says that it was rape, while the man claims it was consensual. Regardless, the case is one that seems to be changing the way Match.com does business. They are changing the background checks on the site, and are now going to bounce the names against the registry. It seems that this is a simple enough thing to do and one that should have been done to start with.
Perhaps that is the reason why the lady is pursuing this action in court. While the website seems protected with the wording included on the sign up sheet, it still can be held accountable under certain conditions. Apparently Jane Doe’s lawyers feel strongly enough about the case to pursue it. It should be interesting to see what comes of this and if it will change the industry standards in the months to come.
A safer online dating environment is certainly not a bad thing, but how much of that onus should fall upon the heads of the website? Is much of this still not on us? I guess it depends upon what we perceive that we are paying for, and what we are actually getting for our membership. Maybe it would be a good thing to offer extensive background checks on prospective matches. I know that I would certainly pay for it if I were back in the dating scene somehow. Safety is the most important thing when it comes to online dating, even though we may not realize it until after something bad like this happens.
We shall see in Los Angeles Court in due time. It should be an interesting battle indeed.
This article is contributed by Rodney Southern, a freelance writer and sports columnist. Rodney regularly publishes articles at collaborative writing sites such as HungryScholar.
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