The Purgatory of Digital Punishment



All too often, incorrect or misleading criminal records from years past turn up on Google searches and sealed, expunged, and juvenile records that are legally hidden from public view continue to live on across databases and websites. The problem is, bulk data sets are sold by courts to data brokers, which are then sold to background check services, market research companies and sometimes even to law enforcement, only to be posted on websites that charge money to have them removed. But all the data that shows up on the internet is marked with rampant error and misleading information, with records being downloaded, sold and shared, often turning into multiple versions. For some, it becomes their life’s mission to prevent someone else from Googling them, making it hard to seek better employment or housing, volunteering at a school, or meeting new people. Countless instances point to one thing – the failures of data and technology companies to effectively modernize criminal justice operations, with records rapidly multiplying across the private sector background checking and personal data industries and from there, the spread is unstoppable. Reform is possible and it comes in addressing the relationship between criminal punishment, individual privacy and governmental oversight in the digital age. Perhaps holding background check companies legally accountable for reporting incorrect or outdated data is a solution or adopting aspects such as that of the European “right to be forgotten” policy.


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Post By Ken Shafton (2,372 Posts)