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Battle Looms Over Website Background Checks

Publication Date: 
August 22, 2011
Source: 
Daily Journal
Author: 
Erica E. Phillips

Lecturer Jennifer Granick spoke with Erica E. Phillips of the Daily Journal to discuss website background checks and why the biggest argument for the screening is market-driven.

Sellers and buyers connected for commerce through Craigslist, globetrotters finding a pad on CouchSurfing.com, and perfect strangers meeting for a romantic dinner with the help of Match.com all have one thing in common - they turn Internet connections into face-to-face meetings with unknown consequences.

Under current federal law, the websites that facilitate these meetings are not liable if the rendezvous goes awry and few perform any sort of background checks.

...

At the moment, the strongest argument for websites screening their users is market-driven, said privacy attorney Jennifer S. Granick of ZwillGen PLLC.

"Different sites distinguish themselves on the basis of the kind of screening they do," Granick said. "In some cases people might like a site better for the screening they do. Other places may allow people to communicate without real names because it might make them more honest about what they're looking for."