If the US and UK are experiencing the same trends, then online dating is indeed becoming more dangerous.
Then again, they may not be experiencing the same trends.
But Leech wants other protections, like giving users alerts about potential risks before they ever begin chatting with strangers.
Is this scaremongering, or is online dating truly putting users in danger?
But fake profiles abound, sexual predators use the sites, and some common online dating behavior—like meeting alone after scant acquaintance, sharing personal information, and using geolocation—puts users at risk.
Dating companies are being pushed to better protect users, but some seem reluctant to do more— or even to talk about whether there’s a problem.
In the US, the FBI collects data about so-called romance fraud and about online “sexploitation,” but data about physical assault linked to dating sites is scant.
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the US government, last collected data in 2011 and will publish an update this year, but doesn’t ask questions about online dating.
In the US, overall incidents of sexual violence have fallen by 63% since 1993, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
By contrast, the UK’s Office for National Statistics has recorded an increase in sexual assaults since 2012.
John Leech thinks the situation is new, and dangerous.