TRENTON — The Senate budget committee Monday advanced a proposal to require online dating services to tell customers whether criminal background screenings are done of members using the site to look for dates.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor, over the objections of a group of online companies whose lobbyists said the proposal won’t prevent child predators and could soothe people into thinking they’re safer online than they are.
The thing about state-ordered mandatory background checks for online dating sites is that they’re a toothless illusion. They sound great to politicians – after all, who could be against something that keeps our constituents safe? But really, they accomplish little in terms of allaying the concerns of most online daters. Most singles I know aren’t so concerned about being kidnapped; they just want to know that a person isn’t married or egregiously lying about height and weight. So while keeping out convicted felons is a noble goal, indeed, it doesn’t even come close to eliminating the true issue that many have with online dating. It’s liars that need policing, not the one out of 1,000 people who may have a previous criminal record.
To single out websites for NOT doing background checks creates a perception of fear that is highly exaggerated. Out of the 25 million+ people who are dating online right now, the number who have been hurt, I’m guessing, is no higher percentage-wise than for people who met in a bar. And nobody’s asking bars to do background checks.
At the end of the day, common sense will protect you from liars and creeps far better than any mandatory felony screening.