Parolee's may face jail time for using MySpace

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Parolee's may face jail time for using MySpace
Many convicted sex offenders who had profiles on the popular MySpace website are on parole, and some may be sent back to prison for e-mailing minors.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says more than half of the 210 sex offenders from his state who used the social networking site are on parole. One was returned to state custody last week for using the Internet, a violation of a condition of his release.


MySpace's 180 million profiles make it the world's largest networking site. It's popular with teens. Two dozen states have taken legal action to get from MySpace a list of its users who are registered as sex offenders; 21 states have received names and e-mail addresses, says Michael Angus, My-Space's chief counsel.

Pennsylvania has asked for the content of e-mails. MySpace asked a court there Monday to tell the company how to supply such information without violating privacy laws. Blumenthal says Connecticut will request e-mails next week.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the MySpace data prove that sex offenders prowl the Internet. She says 48 of the 844 offenders in Illinois who used MySpace are in custody or on parole. Their cases are being reviewed for prosecution. Many paroled sex offenders are barred from using the Internet because it could be used to contact minors.

MySpace purged the profiles of 7,000 sex offenders in the first two weeks of May and has removed more since then, Angus says.

"It's a step in the right direction" but offers only a limited account of sex offenders using the site, says Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. "These are only the guys who weren't bright enough to use another name."

Dann, who was notified that 470 Ohio sex offenders used the site, says MySpace is "still not a safe environment for children." He wants MySpace to do more to protect kids, such as verifying ages.

Angus says MySpace has done "extensive research" but has yet to find technology to reliably verify ages. He says MySpace is safe because it works closely with police and has developed a database to match its membership with sex-offender registries.

He says the company supports pending legislation that would require sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses, just as they do their physical addresses.



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