OPW Exclusive Interview #1 - R-Kevin Ambler - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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I totally agree with your article. As a Single hottie, hehe you cant be to careful. Heres a trick I learned when I itterned in LA Sup Court. Its free do to. In Calif at least to check to see if a person has a criminal background. Simpley got to index room next to file counter. Tell clerk you need to know any case numbers. You'll need the persona full name including middle intial and DATE OF BIRTH. If theres a case number the clerk isnt allowed to tell you what the charges are. What you do is when you get back home you call your local PD and read the numbers of the charges most cops tell ya on phone what it means. anyways ty for wonderful articles. take care.

James Houran


I wanted to commend you for the quality of OPW content. Unlike other blogs, yours offers readers a balance of opinion on controversial topics. I especially appreciate how you are keen on presenting facts that contrast and offset the multitude of ill-informed opinions across all blogs on this issue in particular.

Since a myriad of contributors and admins of blogs continue to present this proposed safety legislation as regulatory in nature (and specifically as an attempt by TRUE to "regulate its business model") rather than accurately noting it is disclosure legislation, it is wonderful that you have sought out facts direct from the source to educate the public. Debate on controversial topics is good! But, it is much more healthy and productive when people understand and debate the facts and relevant issues, as opposed to engaging in attacks and speculation motivated by personal and professional biases.

You have set a high professional standard for industry blogs -- one I hope other admins and contributors will adopt.

Continued best wishes,

James Houran, Ph.D.
Chief Psychologist, TRUE.com

Lee Phillips

Dr. Houran, you of all people should know that "facts" can be manipulated in such a way as to make just about anything look like something it's not. So one person may have a complete understanding of the facts presented to him, but those facts may be a subset of a greater set of facts that, when presented as a whole, would lead that person to a completely different conclusion about the subject at hand.

And that is exactly what True.com is doing. It is presenting a portion of the "Truth" in order get the reaction from legislators and the public that it desires. If presented with ALL of the facts about the efficacy of online background checks as implemented by True.com, I believe the legislators and the public would find that the proposed legislation is not in their best interest. A good example of this is True's claim that 5 percent (or is it eleven? I've heard both figures.) of new sign-ups are rejected due to the results of the background check. What I want to know, and what the legislators should be asking, is how many of those that were rejected signed up again and gave false information? Do you have any way of tracking that statistic, or preventing it from happening? I'm afraid I already know the answer to that.

Best Regards,

Lee Phillips
Application Developer/Consultant

Fernando Ardenghi

Please see also
2001 Queensland (Australia) Act

Sooner or later (by 2008, 2010 or sooner), this Industry (Dating and Social Networking) will require legislation and Quality Norms like ISO9001:2000 for Services.
(i.e. more than a simply code of Ethics, auto-written by any association of dating sites)

Kindest Regards,
Fernando Ardenghi
Buenos Aires

[email protected]

Todd Murphy

I believe we need to start performing background checks before entering malls, stores, clubs, bars or anywhere else that people meet other people. Also, include the local coffee shop too. Gheez..

This is nothing more than a glorified PR stunt in which people's safety is preyed upon and fear is unreasonably exploited. It is the individuals who haven't used or been involved in the industry who exaggerate the saftey issues in the name of "protecting everyone" and gaining the goodwill status.

For example, I am sure that 95% or more of the legislators are married. Have they used a dating service? It's safe to assume they haven't. If you're a politician and you vote no against this measure, then your opponents will use it as leverage to imply or suggest that you don't look out for the public's good.

Mark Brooks

When we moved from flat boring classifieds in newspapers to searchable profiles around 1994, the online world made it's first improvement over the real world. Many improvements have occured since then. How to deal with safety? The online world needs to improve on the real world. When a man is interested in a woman he needs to communicate a. he's interested and b. he's safe. It's easier to do that in a bar, but online dating site users are at a distinct disadvantage. They can't use their intuition. They can't stare into the whites of those eyes. Online dating has had a bad rap because people do lie online. They lie about their marriage status and their looks, but most alarmingly, they are not at liberty to reveal if they served 10 years in the penn for murdering their ex. Thankfully we've not seen many such stories. This is an extreme example, but still, would be kinda nice if there were a way for women to feel more warm and fuzzy before embarking on a first date, especially regarding the marriage status of their date. Right now background checks are fallible...but that's because there's no economies of scale here. The background checking companies have just not been that motivated to invest in the improvements needed. As controversial as this legislation is, if passed, it will help drive the volume of checks, so that the background checking companies will get their act together. I'm going to be researching the background checks providers over the next few weeks. Watch this space.

Mark Brooks
Online Personals Watch

Personal Ads

Interesting. I wonder how tax payers feel about their state resources being spent this particular issue.

Any idea how this legislation would be enforced? Locally, nationwide, and globaly? Anyone considered the logistics with implementing legislation like this?

What about legislation to industry size? Online dating barely breaks the $1 billion mark. All this hoopla for an industry that is in it's infancy and declining growth in the last few years. Is it reasonable?

What about companies based in other countries that compete for US members? For an internet company it would not be hard to move their operations to a more friendly environment.

Online dating is a global phenomenon.

Any word on what public perception is about this issue?

Mark Brooks

Some sort of fine per day for online dating companies that aren't listing the warning I believe.

Folks, please list your signature in your comments.

Mark Brooks
Online Personals Watch

Lee Phillips

Mark, I have to respectfully disagree on several points. There is nothing to prevent an ex-con from disclosing his criminal past to a potential partner. Sure, most probably choose not to do so, but that is a choice they make. In reality, I would think that the only thing that people lie about online that they wouldn't, or couldn't, lie about in person is their appearance.

As for the background checking companies getting their act together, they aren't really the problem. Remember, the backgroud check can only be so thorough with the limited about of data provided by companies such as True.com, e.g. Name and Birthdate. That's just not enough for a comprehensive check and anyone intent on hiding their criminal past would most likely not provide accurate information. Asking consumers to provide more info than that could run into privacy issues. Even if someone were willing to provide info like their SSN or driver's license number, those too are easily faked by identity theft. Perhaps if biometrics were used we could be more sure that the person being checked is really who they say they are, but that is a long way away.

As for marital status, now we're getting into moral issues vs. criminal issues. Many people are ok dating a married person, especially if that person is intent on terminating that marriage.

I would say that the online world of dating has already improved upon the offline world in numerous ways, but there will always be things better done in person than online.

Best Regards,

Lee Phillips
Application Developer/Consultant

Glenn G. Millar

Congressman Ambler is typical of government bureaucrats. He believes that Americans are not capable of making their own decisions and the government can do it better for them. In this way, he creates more regulation, creates more government jobs to enforce that regulation and to pay for that regulation, he either increases taxes or cuts budgets from more important areas such as education.

In Florida's case, the state is a net recipient of federal programs. This means for every $1 they receive in Federal programs, their citizens provide less than $1 in taxes. States like California, which is a net provider, pay for these programs. No wonder Congressman Ambler wants more regulation.

The Congressman argues that the government has a responsibility to protect its citizens from products we cannot educate ourselves on. He uses the example of warning labels on cigarettes. Citizens cannot make their own decision on this product, because it would be impossible for them to do the chemical tests and long-term studies to determine their dangers.

To use this as example for regulation in online dating is a poor analogy. A user of online dating can easily make a decision about what dating service to use based on what they offer. If the user wants security and is willing to pay the additional price for it, he or she will migrate to a site like True.com. If he or she doesn’t see value in this service, another service will be chosen.

This is a perfect example of where the free-enterprise system works without the need for government interference.

By the same token, it is unlikely the legislation will work. Your legislation requires that a dating site reveals if it does background checks. Does your legislation specify the accuracy of those background checks? Will you now create an agency that regulates companies that do background checks?

If you do not, then your legislation requiring disclosure is useless because an online dating company may use a background check company that has a very poor track record. The dating site would still be operating within the law by stating it does background checks, but now users, who might have been more skeptical before, are now lulled into a false sense of security, and thus, are less safe because of your legislation.

Congressman Ambler, you also mention your underage daughters -- actually it's the first thing you mention. Using your children as emotional bait to push your point through; shame on you. Dating sites are not open to people under 18, so your legislation does nothing to protect minor children. I salute you for wanting to protect your children, but that is your responsibility, Congressman, not the government's.

Where does your government interference stop Congressman? When will you realize that Americans are intelligent consumers and we are tired of government constantly in our lives “trying to protect us.”

Glenn G. Millar
Brand Management Consultant


What is the status on all of this? Will you send out an email when there is further news as far as yes or no? That would be great. I can't seem to find anything in regard to passed, failed or otherwise.

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