Schakowsky, Kuster Lead Letter to Match Group President Calling for Improvements to Protect Users from Registered Sex Offenders on Dating Apps

February 20, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) led a letter, signed by 11 Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to Match Group President Shar Dubey calling on the company to check users against sex offender registries and disclose its efforts to respond to reports of sexual violence that were a result of users meeting through Match Group services.

“Consumers should feel safe using services like Tinder, Match.com, OKCupid and other similar sites, and it’s critical that these companies have strong terms of service that they can and will enforce,” said Rep. Schakowsky, who chairs the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee. “This means that dating platforms, like those owned by Match Group, must be doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of their users. This means vigilant enforcement of terms of service that empower consumers in any online marketplace. I hope the Match.com group will take swift action to reduce the risk of sexual and dating violence against their users.”

“Congress has the responsibility to consider whether online dating platforms are doing their part to keep Americans safe,” said Rep. Kuster. “I am concerned that Match Group’s failure to check users against sex offender registries jeopardizes the well-being of the millions of Americans who use dating apps. As the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, I am committed to supporting survivors and preventing sexual and dating violence. We cannot effectively address this issue without ensuring that those who use dating apps can do so safely.”

Match Group owns Match.com, Tinder, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid and several other online dating platforms. Currently, Match Group does not conduct basic checks of all users against sex offender registries on Tinder, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, and Ok Cupid.

The letter was signed by: Annie Kuster (NH-02), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Scott H. Peters (CA-52), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Robin L. Kelly (IL-02), and Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01). The letter can be read below or here.

 

Shar Dubey

President

Match Group

8750 N. Central Expressway

Dallas, TX 75231

February 20, 2020

Dear Ms. Dubey,

The December 2, 2019 article Tinder Lets Known Sex Offenders Use the App. It’s Not the Only One in ProPublica has raised serious concerns about the safety of users on Match Group’s platforms. Most notably, this article revealed that Match Group does not check users on Tinder, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid against Federal, State, or Tribal Sex Offender Registries. According to ProPublica, the Match Group’s platform failure to check the names of users against Sex Offender Registries may have contributed to users being sexually assaulted after matching with registered sex offenders. Since dating platforms are a business engaged in interstate commerce, Congress has responsibility to consider whether these platforms require regulation to keep consumers safe.

We are concerned that Match Group does not conduct basic checks of users against Federal, State, and Tribal Sex Offender Registries. A review of the terms of service for Tinder, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid shows that you already ask users to certify that they are not required to register as sex offenders. The failure to cross reference all user responses with sex offender registries is deeply concerning. While the names you check against registries will not be accurate in all circumstances, and this due diligence will not prevent all registered sex offenders from using your platforms, it may disincentivize some dangerous individuals from using them and thereby provide a basic level of protection for users. Your platforms already reserve the right to check users against Sex Offender Registries. We urge you to begin conducting these checks immediately. Your company’s failure to take this step is putting users at risk. 

Some states already have adopted laws to regulate online dating platforms. As Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is responsible for regulating interstate commerce and plays an important role protecting consumers, the decision your company takes to proactively conduct checks against Sex Offender Registries are important for informing our legislative efforts.

Enclosed, we have included additional questions about Match Group’s efforts to respond to reports of sexual violence that were a result of people meeting through your services. We respectfully ask for a prompt response, and that you give our request for information your full and fair consideration, consistent with applicable statutes and regulations.

 

Regards,

 

 

 

Ann McLane Kuster                                                               Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

 

 

Bobby L. Rush                                                                        Anna G. Eshoo

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

 

 

Eliot L. Engel                                                                              Kathy Castor

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

                                                                       

 

Jerry McNerney                                                                      Scott H. Peters

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

 

 

Debbie Dingell                                                                        Robin L. Kelly

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

 

 

Tom O’Halleran                     

Member of Congress

 

 

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