TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: A Quaint Relic From Our Archives on Computer

Re: A Quaint Relic From Our Archives on Computer
Tue, 19 Jun 2007 13:56:44 -0700

On Jun 18, 10:08 pm, David B. Horvath, CCP <>

> That is a completely different issue you are raising PAT. The original
> poster was commenting about computer indexes making it "too easy" for
> others to find out about youthful indiscretions preventing them from
> getting a job.

> If there was a conviction when the person was younger with rules
> prohibiting employment (hiring or security clearance) or the exercise
> of certain rights (voting or gun ownership), then the ability of
> employers/government agencies to find that out is not really a
> computer issue!

Again, some things, such as aquittals or mere suspicions, could be
buried in paper files never to see light again. With computerized
indexes, that is less likely.

> My contention was that computerization of those records was not a
> privacy issue. The incident/information had already been made public
> (published -- notice how similar those words are?) and could've
> readily been found if someone wanted to go to the print archives.

"Privacy" is a relative term. Thanks to the Internet, something
"public" gets spread around worldwide instead of restricted to say
one's own neighborhood. You say "could've readily been found if
someone wanted to go to the print archives". But that is a huge IF.
Most people do not have the time or resources to search through print
archives. Often the archives are not indexed, so one needs a date in
advance to narrow the search. Often the archives are serial
microfilm, so that means physically travelling to an archive, loading
a roll and checking each and every page for a reference. That takes
time, lots of it. Having done it, I can say it's not easy. In
contrast, electronics allow comprehensive searches from one's own

I submit that the Internet and computerized indexes and archives makes
a HUGE difference in "privacy" compared to the past of paper files or

> You do raise a good point about "paying debt to society". As a society
> we seem to have a duality in how we view criminal justice. We state
> that someone who has served their sentence (not on parole or
> probation) as paid their debt to society and yet we keep adding
> conditions to their lives. First it was the loss of the right to
> vote/own firearms. Then there are employment restrictions (regulations
> and laws); many jobs now require criminal background checks before
> being hired. Now we are requiring certain classes of criminal (sexual
> offender) to register their home addresses, have restrictions on where
> they can live, and even being thrown into psychiatric facilities.

All true. The worst part is that these restrictions REDUCE our
safety, not improve it. Many ex-offenders, unable to literally live
with the new restrictions, simply go underground. They are no longer
tracked by parole officers or counselors which increases their risk.
Further, many get bitter and frustrated at not being able to earn a
living and return to crime. But this is a very hot button issue in
society; anyone who raises it is accused of coddling criminals.

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