CS/HB 531

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to Internet predator awareness; creating
3ss. 501.165-501.171, F.S., the "Internet Predator
4Awareness Act"; providing legislative findings; defining
5terms; requiring certain disclosures by online dating
6services; providing a clearinghouse for consumers;
7providing civil penalties; providing exclusions; providing
8a directive to the Division of Statutory Revision;
9providing severability; providing an effective date.
11Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
13     Section 1.  Section 501.165, Florida Statutes, is created
14to read:
15     501.165  Internet Predator Awareness Act; legislative
17     (1)  Sections 501.165-501.171 may be cited as the "Internet
18Predator Awareness Act."
19     (2)(a)  The Legislature has received public testimony that
20criminals and sex offenders use online dating services to prey
21upon the citizens of this state.
22     (b)  The Legislature finds that residents of this state
23need to be informed when viewing websites of online dating
24services as to potential risks to personal safety associated
25with online dating. Also, requiring disclosures in the form of
26guidelines for safer dating and informing residents as to
27whether a criminal background screening has been conducted on
28members of an online dating service fulfills a compelling state
29interest to increase public awareness of the possible risks
30associated with Internet dating activities.
31     (c)  The Legislature finds that the acts of transmitting
32over the Internet electronic dating information addressed to
33residents of the state and accepting membership fees from
34residents of the state for Internet dating services establishes
35that an online dating service provider is operating, conducting,
36engaging in, and otherwise carrying on a business in the state
37and subjects such an online dating service provider to
38regulation by the state and to the jurisdiction of the state's
40     Section 2.  Section 501.166, Florida Statutes, is created
41to read:
42     501.166  Definitions.--As used in ss. 501.165-501.171:
43     (1)  "Communicate," "communicating," or "communication"
44means free-form text authored by a member or real-time voice
45communication through an online dating service provider.
46     (2)  "Convicted," "conviction," and "convictions" shall
47have the same meaning as provided in s. 943.0435(1)(b) or, if an
48offense was committed in another jurisdiction, these terms shall
49have the same meaning as provided under that jurisdiction's
50equivalent statute.
51     (3)  "Criminal background screening" means, at a minimum, a
52search for a person's felony and sexual offense convictions
53initiated by an online dating service provider and conducted by
54one of the following means:
55     (a)  By searching available and regularly updated
56government public record databases for felony and sexual offense
57convictions so long as such databases, in the aggregate, provide
58substantial national coverage of such felonies and sexual
59offense convictions; or
60     (b)  By searching a database maintained by a private vendor
61that is regularly updated and is maintained in the United States
62with substantial national coverage of such felonies and sexual
63offense convocations.
64     (4)  "Department" means the Department of Agriculture and
65Consumer Services.
66     (5)  "Felony" shall have the same meaning as provided in s.
67775.08 or, if an offense was committed in another jurisdiction,
68the term shall have the same meaning as provided under that
69jurisdiction's equivalent statute.
70     (6)  "Florida member" means a member as defined in this
71section who provides a Florida billing address with zip code and
72other required billing information when registering with the
74     (7)  "Member" means a person who submits to an online
75dating service provider the information required by the provider
76to access the provider's service for the purpose of engaging in
77dating or participating in compatibility evaluations with other
78persons or obtaining matrimonial matching services.
79     (8)  "Online dating service provider" or "provider" means a
80person engaged in the business of offering or providing to its
81members access to dating or compatibility evaluations between
82persons or matrimonial matching services through the Internet.
83     (9)  "Sexual offense conviction" means a conviction for an
84offense that would qualify the offender for registration as a
85sexual offender under s. 943.0435 or, if an offense was
86committed in another jurisdiction, the term shall have the same
87meaning as provided under that jurisdiction's equivalent
89     Section 3.  Section 501.167, Florida Statutes, is created
90to read:
91     501.167  Provider safety awareness disclosures.--An online
92dating service provider offering services to Florida members
94     (1)  Provide a safety awareness notification with, at a
95minimum, information that includes a list and description of
96safety measures reasonably designed to increase awareness of
97safer dating practices as determined by the provider. Examples
98of such notifications include:
99     (a)  "Anyone who is able to commit identity theft can also
100falsify a dating profile."
101     (b)  "There is no substitute for acting with caution when
102communicating with a stranger who wants to meet you."
103     (c)  "Never include your last name, e-mail address, home
104address, phone number, place of work, or any other identifying
105information in your online profile or initial e-mail messages.
106Stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for personal or
107financial information or attempts in any way to trick you into
108revealing it."
109     (d)  "If you choose to have a face-to-face meeting with
110another member, always tell a family member or a friend where
111you are going and when you will return. Never agree to be picked
112up at your home. Always provide your own transportation to and
113from your date and meet in a public place at a time with many
114people around."
115     (2)  If an online dating service provider does not conduct
116criminal background screenings on its communicating members, the
117provider shall disclose, clearly and conspicuously, to all
118Florida members that the online dating service provider does not
119conduct criminal background screenings. The disclosure shall be
120provided, at a minimum, on the profile pages describing a member
121to a Florida member and on the provider's website pages used
122when a Florida member signs up. A disclosure under this
123subsection shall be in bold, capital letters in at least 12-
124point type.
125     (3)  If an online dating service provider conducts criminal
126background screenings on all of its communicating members, the
127provider shall disclose, clearly and conspicuously, to all
128Florida members that the online dating service provider conducts
129a criminal background screening on each member prior to
130permitting a Florida member to communicate with another member.
131Additionally, the provider shall disclose to all Florida members
132whether a member who has been identified as having a felony or
133sexual offense conviction is allowed to communicate with any
134Florida member. The disclosure shall be provided on the profile
135pages describing a member to a Florida member and on the
136provider's website pages used when a Florida member signs up. A
137disclosure under this subsection shall be in bold, capital
138letters in at least 12-point type.
139     (4)(a)  If an online dating service provider conducts
140criminal background screenings, the provider shall also
141disclose, clearly and conspicuously, that background screenings
142of applicants can be fallible and there is no way to guarantee
143that the name provided by a person to be used in a background
144screening is the person's true identity. Also, not all criminal
145records are publicly available. The screenings may not identify
146every member who has a felony or sexual offense conviction and
147members should participate in the service at their own risk and
148use caution when communicating with other members.
149     (b)  To enable Florida members to better evaluate and
150compare the extent and scope of the background screenings, an
151electronic link shall be provided to a web page that, at a
152minimum, clearly describes the name of the vendor conducting the
153background screening, the frequency with which the vendor
154updates its database of criminal convictions, a list of states
155covered, and any limitations or restrictions on access to a
156state's criminal conviction data.
157     Section 4.  Section 501.168, Florida Statutes, is created
158to read:
159     501.168  Clearinghouse.--The department shall serve as the
160clearinghouse for intake of information concerning ss.
161501.165-501.171 from consumers, residents, and victims. The
162consumer hotline may be used for this purpose. Information
163obtained shall be directed to the appropriate enforcement
164entity, as determined by the department.
165     Section 5.  Section 501.169, Florida Statutes, is created
166to read:
167     501.169  Civil penalties.--
168     (1)  An online dating service provider that registers
169Florida members must comply with the provisions of ss. 501.165-
171     (2)  Acts, conduct, practices, omissions, failings,
172misrepresentations, or nondisclosures committed in violation of
173ss. 501.165-501.171 are deceptive and unfair trade practices
174under part II of this chapter and the department, the Department
175of Legal Affairs, or the state attorney may institute a civil
176action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover any
177penalties, damages, and injunctive relief to enforce compliance
178with ss. 501.165-501.171. Each failure to provide a required
179disclosure constitutes a separate violation.
180     (3)  The court may impose a civil penalty of up to $1,000
181per violation, with an aggregate total not to exceed $25,000 for
182any 24-hour period, against any online dating service provider
183that violates any requirement of ss. 501.165-501.171. Suit may
184be brought by an enforcing authority as defined in s. 501.203 or
185the department if the department, while acting as the
186clearinghouse, does not refer the matter to the Department of
187Legal Affairs or the state attorney. Any penalties collected
188shall accrue to the enforcing authority or the department's
189Division of Consumer Services to further consumer enforcement
190efforts. No private cause of action is created under ss.
192     Section 6.  Section 501.171, Florida Statutes, is created
193to read:
194     501.171  Exclusions.--
195     (1)  An Internet access service or other Internet service
196provider does not violate ss. 501.165-501.171 solely as a result
197of serving as an intermediary for the transmission of
198communications between members of an online dating service
200     (2)  An Internet access service or other Internet service
201provider shall not be considered an online dating service
202provider within the meaning of ss. 501.165-501.171 as to any
203online dating service website provided by another person or
204entity that is not an affiliate of the Internet access service
205or Internet service provider. As used in this subsection, the
206term "affiliate" shall have the same meaning as provided in s.
208     Section 7.  The Division of Statutory Revision is directed
209to include the provisions of sections 501.165-501.171, Florida
210Statutes, in part I of chapter 501, Florida Statutes.
211     Section 8.  If any provision of this act or the application
212thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the
213invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of
214this act that can be given effect without the invalid provision
215or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are
216declared severable.
217     Section 9.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2007.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.