Florida Background Checks Bill Hits Boiling Point – Online Personals Watch Interviews the Bill's Sponsor

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Online Personals Watch Exclusive Interview - R-Kevin Ambler

R-Kevin Ambler is house sponsor of the Florida background checks legislation. This legislation requires online dating companies to clearly indicate on their sites whether or not they provide background checks on their users. See http://tinyurl.com/abau3 for the amended legislation.

The bill is due to pass into the next committee phase Tuesday 26th April. It will then head to the house and senate for final vote.

Why the need for legislation? – “I have a 15 year old daughter and a 17 year old son who live on the internet. It's their tool for communicating. Background checks sounded like a good idea for protecting their interests in the future. Many online daters have a false sense of security. Clear disclosure is required in this case, along with the meaning of 'background checks' and limitations. I want my daughter to know, and have the ability to identify felons in the future. As a parent it's incumbent of me to protect my kids future. They are the most internet savvy generation yet...and the most likely to drop their guard.”

What is the legislations likelihood of success? – “The first committees have processed it after an excellent vetting of the issues. It was debated twice for over an hour in the house. We are becoming alarmed about the number of predators and felons so anything we can do to improve the odds and safety is a good thing, a step forward, so I have a very positive outlook on this legislation. It was very carefully tailored to be minimally intrusive to the business model but offers a fair level of protection.”

How about married people? – “We're not legislating on marriage disclosure. We’d be getting into morality issues.”

What are the next steps for the legislation? – “There's one more committee in the house and senate. It then goes to full votes in the senate and house and then the governor has to sign it.”

What are the implications for other online services? – “ISP's are excluded from liability...background checks have nothing to do with the carriers of online dating sites. The employment area is also ripe for discussion i.e. monster.com should indicate if applicant background checks have been done. I don't see anything beyond services effecting individuals safety as possibilities for future legislation. Sites that are involved in financial deals could also choose to do background checks. I could foresee them being offered in environments such as eBay. But, this area does not serve the same compelling safety interests for legislation. I don't have to meet people from eBay…but a background check would have some bearing on whether I trust them.”

The full interview appears at http://www.onlinepersonalswatch.com

Mark Brooks: The online personals industry is unanimously against the legislation but not necessarily against background checks. See “Online Dating Sites Quarrel Over Background Checks” - http://tinyurl.com/d24pk.

True.com is the first and only online dating site to offer background checks. It recently hired hired a well-connected lobbyist and ex-Bush aide from Tampa — former Secretary of the Department of Management Services Cynthia Henderson — to push the background checks measure.

Links to proposed legislation at http://www.idate2005.com; MICHIGAN SB 286, FLORIDA HB 1035, FLORIDA SB 1768, TEXAS HB 1307, CALIFORNIA AB 1681

About Online Personals Watch:

Online Personals Watch has no ads, no fluff, just raw news relevant to the online personals industry.

About Kevin Ambler:

R-Kevin Ambler serves the Hillsborough (Tampa) area in Florida (since 2002). He serves on health care, education and veterans affairs committees as well as the judiciary committee. He is an attorney, Cornell University graduate, and served in the US Air Force. He was awarded Hillsborough’s "Have A Heart" Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney of the Year in 2002.

About the Interviewer, Mark Brooks:

Editor, Mark Brooks, is a former online personals industry executive. In 1998 he launched ace-club.com as Silicon Valley’s premier social club for young professionals. He subsequently helped launch one of the first personality profiling sites, an early version of eHarmony, which was acquired by EZBoard in 2000. Mark went on to work with the CEO/Founders of leading sites Friendster, FriendFinder and Cupid, guiding branding, marketing and acquisitions initiatives. “Finding the right partner is the most important decision a person can make. Online personals services hold high promise in helping us improve the quality of these decisions. I hope to give greater visibility to the industry as a whole with OnlinePersonalsWatch.”

About iDate2005:

The ‘internet dating conference’ is the online personals industries leading conference and gathering point. May 12-13 Hong Kong, July 21-22 San Francisco (Wireless/Mobile Dating), Sept 22-23 Prague, Feb 1-2 Miami

Media Contact:

Mark Brooks

Editor, Online Personals Watch

& Media Relations for iDate2005

AIM/YAHOO: brooksace

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