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The heavyweights of the online dating industry said they were keen to do everything possible to prevent situations like this from happening again."We have always been committed to setting the standard for positive consumer experiences in online dating, and we were happy to work with the attorney general, EHarmony and Spark Networks to encourage best practices throughout the industry," Mandy Ginsberg, president of Match.com, said in a statement.Her commitment to higher standards was echoed by the heads of EHarmony and Spark Networks.

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With numbers like those, it's remarkable that it took this long for industry leaders to take an obvious step toward protecting customers.

Yet even now, their dedication to users' safety is tenuous at best.

The agreement signed with Harris is nonbinding and carries no enforcement penalties.

In other words, the dating sites can't be sued if they come up short in vetting would-be members.

I'm not saying that websites should be held accountable for every real-world trespass linked to the virtual world.

Obviously there's only so much anyone can do to keep a bad guy at bay.

But it's clear that stronger safeguards are required not just for virtual matchmakers but all websites providing a platform for people to interact and transact business.

Since the earliest days of the Net, website operators have argued that they can't be held responsible for what users might do online.

California cracked down this week on online dating sites — and it's about time. The site's computers had determined that the woman and the man would make a good couple.

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