Does Move by MySpace to Root out Predators Trample on Privacy Rights?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 22, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

MICHELLE MALKIN, GUEST HOST: In the "impact" segment tonight,, a social networking site owned by News Corps, the parent company of FOX News, has agreed to hand over information on convicted sex offenders using the site. The attorneys general of eight states asked for the data, saying they need it to prosecute predators, who were violating parole by contacting minors over the Internet.

But some folks are blasting the move, saying sharing the info violates the privacy rights of these sex offenders. Joining us now from Atlanta, criminal defense attorney Drew Findling.

Drew, what's wrong with what Myspace is doing? It's really damned if they do, damned if they don't in this case, because if they didn't cooperate with the Feds and something horrible happened where one of the convicted sex offenders did use the site, we'd be jumping all over them either way. Isn't that right?

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, we would. But let's start first, before we talk about the sex offenders, what we have to talk about a company like Myspace, is so-called social networking, is a breeding ground of pedophile behavior, anyway, of unknown predators who haven't been convicted yet.

Now with regard to this situation, eight attorney generals made requests. I've looked at two of those letters that used the word "may." I'm assuming the rest said "May." That is Myspace may have people that may have done this. Pure conjecture. Pure speculation.

We don't know that anything has taken place. And Myspace, to me, trying to up themselves in the community since they're so criticized is providing this information probably to make themselves look good. Look.

MALKIN: Oh, come on.

FINDLING: Michelle.

MALKIN: That's not fair to accuse them of doing this just for PR.

FINDLING: Let me ask you this.

MALKIN: You don't think that there are employees at Myspace that care about kids, that aren't parents themselves that want to make sure that it's a clean, safe site?

FINDLING: Sure, the ones that aren't concerned about making a lot of money. Let's look at where it goes from here. I'm thinking we're probably going to look at the credit card receipts at Disney World or maybe Universal or Chuck E. Cheese or Six Flags. Why don't we go ahead and stand outside and see who's using their credit cards to get into Barney's playhouse down in Disney to see if people going in there are on the sexual registry?

MALKIN: Drew, they're targeting convicted sex offenders. It's not like they're just targeting any average Joe using the computer to go on Myspace. These are people who have been convicted of sex offenses already.

FINDLING: In an unmonitored system, you know, Michelle, there can be John Doe of Akron, Ohio, who's on the registry. And you right now can register as John Doe from Akron, Ohio and have his probation revoked. And he hasn't done a single thing wrong. This is an unmonitored, unchecked…

MALKIN: Why is that Myspace's responsibility? They're just trying to do what they can do.

FINDLING: Because Myspace needs to clean up their own house first. You know, like the Ohio attorney general said, “Hey, they need to get into age verification.” Somebody that's on a probation, for example, for being 17-years old and sleeping with his 14-year-old or 15-year-old girlfriend could get in trouble when he's meeting with somebody on there that lies about their age.

MALKIN: Have you ever used Myspace, Drew? Have you ever used it? Have you ever been on the site?

FINDLING: I have looked at it when I told my kids they weren't allowed to use it. And any of their friends, I tell everybody. And Bill and I have talked about it on the air. It serves no social value whatsoever. And I think that they're jumping at this opportunity to up themselves in the respectability factor.

MALKIN: You know what? I come to Myspace's defense here, not just because I am a FOX News employee, but because it actually does a lot of good in the world. You just look at how military people, troops all over the country, all over the world have used this as a way to communicate with loved ones. I think it's total smear for you to call Myspace just some cesspool of sex offenders and people who are using it for illicit purposes.

And then you're going to go and jump all over them when they try to make it right. I mean, they are trying to make it a safe space. They have privacy policies in place that allow them to do what they're doing.

FINDLING: And I can't wait. You know, they developed this software package. And what is it going to be six months, twelve months, 24 months when they go public selling that software package?

MALKIN: And when they come up with an age verification system, you'll be sniping about that, too.

FINDLING: Probably.

MALKIN: So your kids don't use Myspace. What do they use or do you not allow them on the Internet at all?

FINDLING: Well, we just don't use Myspace. I think that Myspace — like I tell them, “Hey…”

MALKIN: What, you think there's a social networking site out there that is capable of doing what you want them to do?

FINDLING: I don't think that a social networking service serves any societal purpose whatsoever. I think we all survived many years without having to get out there and reveal everything privately.

You know, I've had my kids show me their friends and seen 15-year-old girls say they're 18. 15-year-old girls say they're 21. That scares the heck out of me, Michelle. It scares the heck out of me.

And I tell these kids, and any kids, and I've even done a seminar with the Justice Department down in Florida on this, hey, we don't know when these kids think they're talking, OK, to a friend in Enid, Oklahoma that's their age. They could be talk to some obese child molester, who's never been caught and isn't on the registry.

MALKIN: Well, you know what? If Youtube would treat jihadists the way that Myspace is treating these sex offenders, I think we'd all be safer for it. Drew, thank you.

FINDLING: And Michelle, thank you.

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