"This is about Americans' right to privacy and one of the most private things is your location."Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Texas have laws that require Internet dating sites to disclose whether they conduct criminal background checks on users and to offer advice on keeping safe."I see more regulation about companies stating what kind of information they actually use and more about their specific operation(s)," says analyst Jeremy Edwards, who authored a report on the industry last fall for IBISWorld, a Santa Monica, Calif.–based market research company.
"I expect them to have to be more explicit in what they do with their data and what they require of users."According to a Pew Research Center report in October, 11% of American adults — and 38% of those currently "single and looking" for a partner — say they've used online dating sites or mobile dating apps."We entrust some incredibly sensitive information to online dating sites," says Rainey Reitman of the San Francisco, Calif.-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for user privacy amid technology development.
Change may be coming to the rapidly growing dating industry as concern mounts about the privacy and safety of all online and mobile users. Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced legislation Thursday requiring companies to get customers' permission before collecting location data off their mobile devices and sharing it with others.
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However, cyberdating expert Julie Spira of Los Angeles says such reports are sometimes little more than revenge."When people get reported, sometimes it's because they got jilted," she says.
"How do you quantify when someone feels rejected and pushes the report button, and when somebody really feels scared?