senate Bill S2414

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Enacts the "internet dating safety act of 2013"; requires internet dating services to provide notice whether the service conducts criminal background screenings

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 17, 2013 referred to consumer protection

S2414 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
General Business Law
Laws Affected:
Add ยง394-cc, Gen Bus L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S3618A
2009-2010: S556, S7093B

S2414 - Bill Texts

view summary

Enacts the "internet dating safety act of 2013"; requires internet dating services to provide notice whether the service conducts criminal background screenings; requires internet dating services to provide safety awareness notification that includes, at minimum, a list and description of safety measures reasonably designed to increase awareness of safer dating practices as determined by the service.

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BILL NUMBER:S2414

TITLE OF BILL:
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 background screenings

PURPOSE:
The purpose of this bill is to protect users of Internet dating
services by requiring such services to provide users with safety
disclosures.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
This bill would require Internet dating services offering services to
New York members to provide a safety awareness notice to customers
and disclose whether criminal background screenings on its members
have been performed. The safety awareness notification would be
required to include, at minimum, a list and description of safety
measures designed to increase customer awareness of safer dating
practices.

The bill would also require Internet dating services that do not
conduct criminal background screenings on its members to disclose
that fact clearly and conspicuously to all New York members. An
Internet dating service that conducts criminal background screenings
would be required to disclose that fact and 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 New York
members.

The bill would deem it an unlawful practice subject to enforcement
under Article 22-A of the General Business Law for an Internet dating
service to fail to provide the required notice or to falsely indicate
that it has performed criminal background screenings.

EXISTING LAW:
New Bill.

JUSTIFICATION:
While the use of Internet dating services has resulted in countless
happy couples, this new method of meeting potential mates can pose
risks to participants. New York State residents need to be informed
of these potential risks. This bill would require Internet dating
service to post a safety awareness notification, which would include
a list of recommended safety measures users should take to ensure
safe dating.

The bill would also require internet dating services to disclose
whether criminal history background screenings have been performed.
Some customers may be under the false impression that those they meet
through an internet dating service have been checked out by the
site's operators when, in fact, the site has no obligation to do so.
It is important to make sure those using an Internet dating service


know whether or not criminal background screenings are being
performed on members. The more information users have, the more steps
they can take to ensure their safety.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
A.7192/S.566 (2010) - Held in Consumer Protection
S.6685 2008
01/09/08 - Held in Consumer Protection

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
120 days after enactment.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  2414

                       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-
  ground screenings

  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
declares:
  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
state's courts.
  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.
                                                           LBD05571-01-3

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
REGISTRIES.
  (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
DATING PROFILE."
  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
this section.
  (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
FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
  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
effective date.

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