by Marci PiltzReporterPortage County Sheriff Duane Kaley said he intends to contact this week about sex offenders registered in Portage County who appear to have accounts on the social networking site.On May 14, attorneys general from eight states, including Ohio, sent a letter to MySpace seeking the names of registered sex offenders who use the Web site. MySpace issued a statement saying it would not comply with the request.The company's chief security officer, Hemashu Nigam, said in an Associated Press interview the refusal was made because proper legal procedure requesting the names was not followed.He said MySpace is serious about identifying and removing sex offenders from its Web site and wants to work with the attorneys general.In December, MySpace an-nounced it was partnering with Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. to build a database with information on sex offenders in the United States.Software to identify and remove sex offenders from the site has been used since May 3, and MySpace has "removed every registered sex offender that we identified out of our more than 175 million profiles," Nigam said.In early March, using the names of the then 142 sex offenders registered in Portage County, the Advocate's sister paper, the Record-Courier found 17 profiles with names, ages, locations and in some cases photographs matching those of registered offenders.Another search done May 18 by the R-C found 10 of the sites still existed on MySpace. Six of those had been visited by their creator within the past two weeks while the others appear to have been inactive for some time.THREE OTHER names showed at least one matching result; however, no link to a page appeared.Kaley said May 18 although he hasn't yet petitioned state legislators seeking a bill prohibiting offenders from having such easy access to sites youngsters use for social networking, it's still a good idea."There ought to be some kind of limited access because MySpace is so widely used by young people," he said. "It's entirely too easy to get on there and put a different person's name or photo up."Sex offenders could already be communicating with young people and they have no idea what that person's true identity is."A bill was introduced Jan. 31 in Congress that would require sex offenders to register their physical, e-mail and instant messenger addresses. That information would be included in a national sex offender registry and could be used to weed offenders out of social networking sites.However, Kaley and other officials have said offenders may not be using their real names and e-mail addresses can easily be obtained without verifying a person's identity.MySpace's policy prevents children under 14 from setting up profiles, but it relies on users to specify their ages."We've already been contacted by one family who was tremendously concerned because their child had been contacted by someone who wanted to set up a meeting at a restaurant," Kaley said."There is a possibility that children could be lured into a situation through these sites."Editor's note: Piltz is a reporter for the Record-Courier.E-mail: mpiltz@recordpub.comTelephone: 330-296-9657