Dating app background and ID checks to fight abuse – The Guardian


Background checks and ID verification systems on dating apps are among the measures being considered as governments around the country grapple with how to keep people safe as they look for love online.

The strategies were discussed by ministers, victim survivors, authorities and technology companies as part of national dating app roundtables in Sydney on Wednesday.

Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said it was an “important first step”, marking discussion of possible longer-term changes such as background checks for dating app users.

“None of us underestimate the complex issues surrounding privacy, user security, data collection and management,” he said.

“There is no law that will solve this problem.”

“Many cases of abuse are perpetrated by people with no criminal records or convictions at all…which is why the discussion also focused on what could be done to encourage respectful interactions online.”

The dating apps were also warned by e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who warned that none met their security standards and that major improvements were needed or they would face a mandatory code.

He said the platforms needed to be transparent about how many people were being abused so the government could monitor the scale of the problem.

“I wouldn’t say anyone [app] meets all those standards,” he said.

The commissioner would issue notices to all platforms demanding greater data sharing, cross-platform collaboration on security measures and roadmaps on how they planned to deal with users who reappear on apps and reoffend.

“If I don’t get full transparency, I have legal powers of compulsion that I can use,” he said.

Rowland said complaints handling by apps was a key area of ​​concern.

“We need the industry to improve their action, their transparency and their accountability in how they respond to consumer complaints,” he said.

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Federal Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said people with lived experiences of app abuse and violence needed to be at the center of discussions to stop perpetrators.

“There needs to be a proactive response, where perpetrators and perpetrators of abuse are held accountable,” Rishworth said.

Teach Us Consent founder Chanel Contos called on dating app companies to invest in educating the public about respectful relationships and consent.

Federal, state and territory attorneys-general will now be asked to examine the issues and consider the criminal justice response as a matter of priority.

Wednesday’s meeting was called in response to the growing number of people using online dating apps and a corresponding increase in assaults and abuse.

A recent study by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that three-quarters of respondents had been subjected to sexual violence on dating apps in the past five years.

Tinder’s parent company, Match, pledged to work with Australian authorities to improve user safety through the use of technology within the platform, saying it was “focused on building safety into everything we do”.

A Bumble spokesperson said the company looked forward to working with others to improve women’s safety on and off the platform.

“Any instance of violence, harassment or abuse is unacceptable to us and we do not hesitate to permanently remove the perpetrators from our platform,” the spokesperson said. “We have a law enforcement portal to facilitate access to data for investigative purposes. We will even take action against perpetrators of reported behavior that has occurred in other apps.”

In Australia, the crisis support service life line it is 13 11 14 and the national one Family violence advisory service is on 1800 737 732. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123 and Domestic violence hotline is 0808 2000 247. In the US, the suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255 and the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found through www.befrienders.org

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