S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
2013-2014 Regular Sessions
I N S E N A T E
January 17, 2013
Introduced by Sen. ADAMS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
printed to be committed to the Committee on Consumer Protection
AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to enacting the
"internet dating safety act of 2013" and requiring internet dating
services to provide notice whether the service conducts criminal back-
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as
the "internet dating safety act of 2013".
S 2. Legislative findings and declarations. The legislature finds and
a. residents of this state need to be informed of the potential risks
of participating in internet dating services. There is a public safety
need to disclose whether criminal history background screenings have
been performed and to increase public awareness of the possible risks
associated with internet dating activities; and
b. the offer of internet dating services to residents of this state,
and the acceptance of membership fees from residents of this state means
that an internet dating service is conducting business in this state and
is subject to regulation by this state and the jurisdiction of the
S 3. Section 394-cc of the general business law, as added by chapter
425 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows:
S 394-cc. Internet dating safety. 1. As used in this section, the
following terms shall have the following meanings:
(a) "CRIMINAL BACKGROUND SCREENING" MEANS A NAME SEARCH FOR A PERSON'S
CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS INITIATED BY AN ON-LINE DATING SERVICE PROVIDER AND
CONDUCTED BY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING MEANS:
EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
S. 2414 2
(I) BY SEARCHING AVAILABLE AND REGULARLY UPDATED GOVERNMENT PUBLIC
RECORD DATABASES FOR CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS SO LONG AS SUCH DATABASES, IN
THE AGGREGATE, PROVIDE SUBSTANTIAL NATIONAL COVERAGE; OR
(II) BY SEARCHING A DATABASE MAINTAINED BY A PRIVATE VENDOR THAT IS
REGULARLY UPDATED AND IS MAINTAINED IN THE UNITED STATES WITH SUBSTAN-
TIAL NATIONAL COVERAGE OF CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS AND SEXUAL OFFENDER
(B) "internet dating service" means a person or entity directly or
indirectly in the business, for profit, of offering, promoting or
providing access to dating, relationship, compatibility, matrimonial or
social referral services principally on or through the internet.
[(b)] (C) "internet service provider" means any person, business or
organization qualified to do business in this state that provides indi-
viduals, corporations, or other entities with the ability to connect to
the internet through equipment that is located in this state.
[(c)] (D) "member" means a customer, client or participant who submits
to an internet dating service information required to access the service
for the purpose of engaging in dating, relationship, compatibility,
matrimonial or social referral.
[(d)] (E) "New York member" means a member who provides an in-state
billing address or zip code when registering with the service.
(F) "CRIMINAL CONVICTION" MEANS A CONVICTION FOR ANY CRIME INCLUDING,
BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY SEX OFFENSE THAT WOULD QUALIFY THE OFFENDER FOR
REGISTRATION PURSUANT TO ARTICLE SIX-C OF THE CORRECTION LAW OR UNDER
ANOTHER JURISDICTION'S EQUIVALENT STATUTE.
2. An internet dating service offering services to New York members
shall provide safety awareness notification that includes, at minimum, a
list and description of safety measures reasonably designed to increase
awareness of safer dating practices in a clear and conspicuous manner.
Such notification shall include, but not be limited to, the following
statements or substantially similar statements:
(a) "There is no substitute for acting with caution when communicating
with any stranger who wants to meet you."
(b) "Never include your last name, e-mail address, home address, phone
number, place of work, or any other identifying information in your
internet profile or initial e-mail messages. Stop communicating with
anyone who pressures you for personal or financial information or
attempts in any way to trick you into revealing it."
(c) "If you choose to have a face-to-face meeting with another member,
always tell someone in your family or a friend where you are going and
when you will return. Never agree to be picked up at your home. Always
provide your own transportation to and from your date and meet in a
public place with many people around."
(D) "ANYONE WHO IS ABLE TO COMMIT IDENTITY THEFT CAN ALSO FALSIFY A
Such notification shall be given at the time a New York member regis-
ters with the service and by way of a link on the main website, or the
first entry point, of the service.
3. (a) [The attorney general may bring an action against an internet
dating service that violates the provisions of this section:
(i) to enjoin further violation of the provisions of this section; and
(ii) to recover up to two hundred fifty dollars for each New York
member registered with the internet dating service during the time peri-
od that the internet dating service was in violation of this section.
(b) In an action under subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of this
subdivision, a court may increase the damages up to three times the
S. 2414 3
damages allowed by such paragraph where the defendant has been found to
have engaged in a pattern and practice of violating the provisions of
(c) No internet dating service shall be deemed to have violated the
provisions of this section if such internet dating service shows, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the violation was not intentional
and resulted from a bona fide error made notwithstanding the maintenance
of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid such error.
(d)] IF AN INTERNET DATING SERVICE DOES NOT CONDUCT CRIMINAL BACK-
GROUND SCREENINGS ON ITS MEMBERS, THE SERVICE SHALL DISCLOSE, CLEARLY
AND CONSPICUOUSLY, TO ALL NEW YORK MEMBERS THAT THE INTERNET DATING
SERVICE DOES NOT CONDUCT CRIMINAL BACKGROUND SCREENINGS. THE DISCLOSURE
SHALL BE PROVIDED WHEN AN ELECTRONIC MAIL MESSAGE IS SENT OR RECEIVED BY
A NEW YORK MEMBER, ON THE PROFILE DESCRIBING A MEMBER TO A NEW YORK
MEMBER, AND ON THE WEBSITE PAGES OF THE INTERNET DATING SERVICE USED
WHEN A NEW YORK MEMBER SIGNS UP. A DISCLOSURE UNDER THIS PARAGRAPH SHALL
BE IN BOLD, CAPITAL LETTERS IN AT LEAST TWELVE-POINT TYPE.
(B) IF AN INTERNET DATING SERVICE CONDUCTS CRIMINAL BACKGROUND SCREEN-
INGS ON ALL OF ITS COMMUNICATING MEMBERS, THEN THE SERVICE SHALL
DISCLOSE, CLEARLY AND CONSPICUOUSLY, TO ALL NEW YORK MEMBERS THAT THE
INTERNET DATING SERVICE CONDUCTS A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND SCREENING ON EACH
MEMBER PRIOR TO PERMITTING A NEW YORK MEMBER TO COMMUNICATE WITH ANOTHER
MEMBER. THE DISCLOSURE SHALL BE PROVIDED ON THE WEBSITE PAGES USED WHEN
A NEW YORK MEMBER SIGNS UP. A DISCLOSURE UNDER THIS PARAGRAPH SHALL BE
IN BOLD, CAPITAL LETTERS IN AT LEAST TWELVE-POINT TYPE.
(C) IF AN INTERNET DATING SERVICE CONDUCTS CRIMINAL BACKGROUND SCREEN-
INGS, THEN THE SERVICE SHALL DISCLOSE WHETHER IT HAS A POLICY ALLOWING A
MEMBER WHO HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS HAVING A CRIMINAL CONVICTION TO HAVE
ACCESS TO ITS SERVICE TO COMMUNICATE WITH ANY NEW YORK MEMBER; SHALL
STATE THAT CRIMINAL BACKGROUND SCREENINGS ARE NOT FOOLPROOF; THAT THEY
MAY GIVE MEMBERS A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY; THAT THEY ARE NOT A PERFECT
SAFETY SOLUTION; THAT CRIMINALS MAY CIRCUMVENT EVEN THE MOST SOPHISTI-
CATED SEARCH TECHNOLOGY; THAT NOT ALL CRIMINAL RECORDS ARE PUBLIC IN ALL
STATES AND NOT ALL DATABASES ARE UP TO DATE; THAT ONLY PUBLICLY AVAIL-
ABLE CONVICTIONS ARE INCLUDED IN THE SCREENING; AND THAT SCREENINGS DO
NOT COVER OTHER TYPES OF CONVICTIONS OR ARRESTS OR ANY CONVICTIONS FROM
4. (A) IT SHALL BE AN UNLAWFUL PRACTICE AND A VIOLATION OF ARTICLE
TWENTY-TWO-A OF THIS CHAPTER FOR AN INTERNET DATING SERVICE TO FAIL TO
PROVIDE NOTICE OR FALSELY INDICATE THAT IT HAS PERFORMED CRIMINAL BACK-
GROUND SCREENINGS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION. IN EVERY CASE WHERE
THE COURT SHALL DETERMINE THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION HAS OCCURRED,
IT MAY IMPOSE A CIVIL PENALTY OF UP TO ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS
FOR EACH VIOLATION.
(B) Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict any right
which any person may have under any other statute or common law.
[4.] 5. An internet service provider does not violate this section
solely as a result of serving as an intermediary for the transmission of
electronic messages between members of an internet dating service.
S 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after
it shall have become a law; provided, however, that effective immediate-
ly, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation
necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date is
authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such