Dating app ID and background checks to fight abuse – Canada Today


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

The strategies were discussed by ministers, victim survivors, authorities and tech companies during roundtable talks on the national dating app in Sydney on Wednesday.

Federal Communications Secretary Michelle Rowland said it was an “important first step”, citing discussions about possible longer-term changes such as background checks for users of dating apps.

“None of us underestimates the complexities surrounding privacy, user security, data collection and management,” he said.

“There is no law that solves this problem.”

“Many cases of abuse are committed by people with no criminal record or criminal record … and so a large focus of the discussion has also been on what could be done to encourage respectful interactions online.”

The dating apps were also brought to the attention of e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who warned that none met her security standards and that major improvements needed to be made or face a mandatory code.

He said platforms need to be transparent about how many people are being abused so the government can monitor the scale of the problem.

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

The commissioner would issue notices to all platforms calling for greater data sharing, cross-platform collaboration on security measures and roadmaps for dealing with users who reappear on apps and re-offend.

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

Rowland said the apps’ handling of complaints is a key concern.

“We need the industry to improve its actions, its transparency and its accountability in responding to consumer complaints,” he said.

Related: Call for dating apps to require criminal background checks as Australian government plans security summit

Social Services Secretary 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 urged dating app companies to invest in educating the public about respectful relationships and consent.

Federal, state and territory attorneys-general are now being asked to examine the issues and prioritize the criminal justice response.

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 exposed 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 is “focused on building safety into everything we do”.

A Bumble spokesperson said the company looks 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 have no hesitation in permanently removing offenders from our platform,” the spokesperson said. “We have a law enforcement portal to facilitate access to data for investigative purposes. We’ll even take action against perpetrators for behavior we’re told happened in other apps.”

In Australia, the Lifeline crisis support service is available on 13 11 14 and the National Family Violence Advice Service is available on 1800 737 732. In the United States, the suicide prevention service is 1-800- 273-8255 and the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). More international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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