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For their own good
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'Cybercop' uses experience to fight sex offenders
He helped MySpace get rid of thousands of online stalkers.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published August 1, 2007
MIAMI - The man behind the technology that recently enabled MySpace to expel almost 30,000 registered sex offenders from its cyber community is a fast-talking, cop-turned-database expert with little tolerance for his targets.
John Cardillo, 38, spent more than a decade working as a police officer in the Bronx before leaving for the private sector. In that time, he said his encounters with sex offenders convinced him that evil does exist.
Seeing a void in the tools available to reliably identify sex offenders in these spheres, the Miami resident created a company five years ago to help Web sites like MySpace do just that. According to two state attorneys general, MySpace found 29,000 registered sex offenders among its 180-million profiles - four times more than the company had cited two months earlier.
Where Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. differs from name-and-age match systems is in its wealth of data and its verification technique. Cardillo's staff compares the Web site profiles of potential matches with the offender's biographical, criminal and geographic history, gleaned from various sources.
Some cases are clearly false matches, Cardillo said, but others warrant a closer look, so the person's profile is flagged and suspended. That person receives a notice and is provided Sentinel's 800-number to call if he believes a mistake was made.
If the person calls, Cardillo's staff asks questions about his background, like his address from a certain period or his former neighbor's name, to determine if he is the right person.
Most people are very cooperative and appreciative of Sentinel's intentions - except for those who turn out to be sex offenders, Cardillo said.
"They're enraged they're kicked off the site, they've threatened my staff. ... They truly show their character when we exclude them from our communities," Cardillo said. "I like hearing this because it reinforces every day that we're doing the right thing."
Sentinel isn't without its critics, though. Some argue that those who have served their sentences should not be barred from MySpace and other online communities.
"I simply don't care. My sympathies don't lie with the pedophiles, they lie with the victim," Cardillo said. "We can never afford not to err on the side of safety."