Interesting article today in the Washington Post by Sara Kehaulani Goo called "Dinner, Movie -- and a Background Check -- for Online Daters."
I'm one of the 31% of Americans that the article says personally know someone who is using online dating services, and for the single guy I know, one of these services has worked very well for years. If I were in his situation I'd use such sites. Still, there's a downside to online dating if you get hooked up with certain kinds of criminals or fall in love with a supposedly single person whose actually married.
In Sara's article we can see a microcosm of identity and privacy issues - authentication, background checks, reputation services, privacy and more. In particular, some of the sites are starting to offer
- criminal background checks
- verification of marital status
- double blind phone numbers for talking with a person anonymously
Third party sites of course also offer these and other services. For example, while I haven't heard of an online dating site that offers a reputation service yet, there is one called dontdatehimgirl.com where "girls" can report serial cheating and other misdeeds of the miscreant, or why not just assassinate someone's character?
This is not a reputation service in the sense of ebay or amazon, of course. Probably wouldn't want to date someone with the reputation "99.6 satisfied - feedback from 964,551 users..."
Then I suppose SSN is not enough - gold diggers could pay extra to get someone's credit score.
Anyway, it was an interesting article. Check it out at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/27/AR2007012701210.html