3 online dating services agree to screen prospective clients
Match.com, eHarmony and Spark Networks agreed Tuesday to screen their prospective online dating clients for histories of sexual assault, violence and identify theft, California Atty. Gen.Kamala D. Harris announced.
The agreement stemmed from a lawsuit brought last year by a Match.com client who was raped on a date with a repeat sex offender to whom she had been matched by the dating service.
The companies also promised to improve safe-dating advice offered online and to educate clients about the risks of being targeted in financial scams.
In a joint statement issued by Harris’ office, the dating service providers said they would cross-check member applications with sex offender registries and take greater steps to verify the accuracy of information contained in personal profiles. They also agreed to create quickly accessible abuse reporting hotlines for clients subjected to criminal behavior.
Internet matchmaking services have long had disclaimers on their websites, warning clients that they bear no liability for physical, financial or other harm that occurs during use of their services. When Match.com agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by a Hollywood screenwriter last year, legal experts said it was only a matter of time before courts recognized some responsibility of the billion-dollar operations to take affordable and readily available precautions to protect their members.
Alan Paul Wurtzel of Pacific Palisades, who had at least six previous sex offense convictions, pleaded no contest to sexual battery in August in the attack on his Match.com date.
About 40 million people in the United States used online dating services last year, the companies said in their announcement.