MySpace Deleting Sex Offender Profiles

The MySpace profiles of a "few thousand" convicted sex offenders have been removed, the popular social networking site said Tuesday. But the company says it will not hand over the users' names to states requesting the data.

The company had previously announced a program in December that will identify and block sex offenders that were attempting to use the site. Called Sentinel Safe, the technology matches information on profiles with a database of about 550,000 sex offenders nationwide.

MySpace is also being pressured by the Attorneys General of eight states to hand over information on sex offenders using the site by May 29, although the company is declining to do so. It claims both federal and state laws prohibit the release of such information.

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Those states requesting the release of data were: Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

"We are doing everything short of breaking the law to ensure that the information about these predators gets to the proper authorities," chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam said. "MySpace has zero tolerance for sexual predators which is why we devoted a team of engineers to work around the clock with Sentinel Tech."

The software has been active for only about two weeks, yet MySpace claims it had already found and removed the profile of every registered sex offender from its more than 175 million profiles.

Lobbyists working on behalf of MySpace are asking for federal laws that would require sex offenders to register their e-mail address, making it easier for companies like MySpace to scan for their presence.

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