In a statement released Sunday night, Match.com's President Mandy Ginsberg claimed the dating site didn't previously screen users due to the
"unreliability of the database" and the false security these searches would provide users. Now the company claims recent technology and database improvements will make such screening more effective.
The controversy started after a Match.com user, identified only as an Ivy League graduate who works in film and television, was sexually assaulted after a second date with a man she met on Match.com. The suspect has a violent criminal past including sexual assault, which Jane Doe feels Match.com should have warned her about.
The victim's lawyer, Mark L. Webb, plans to file an injunction prohibiting Match.com from signing up new members until his client's demands are fulfilled. In the present lawsuit, Doe is not asking for money, but rather for all dating websites to start screening for sexual predators.
The screening process would cross reference users' credit card information with the national sex offender registry.
This lawsuit raises a number of questions in regards to who is responsible for policing the internet and just how effective any screening process could be at weeding out predators.
If you meet a date at a bar or a singles event, should the bar or party planner be responsible for checking every patron's criminal past? Should all sex offenders be banned permanently from dating sites? What about the guy who was arrested at twenty for having sex with his seventeen-year-old girlfriend in the wrong state? Should these background checks be limited to sex offender databases? Wouldn't you want to know if your potential date was arrested but never convicted of armed robbery? Should these sites also check a dater's marital past to detect users who get married as part of a get rich quick scheme? And even if these websites start screening users, won't sex offenders just find ways around these safeguards?
While I don't disagree with dating websites being more critical of who they allow on their sites, in the end these companies can't screen out every predator. Unfortunately dating will always be dangerous if for the simple fact that you never know what you're going to get.