Transparency laws make criminal records a commodity


In April 2018, According to an incorrect arrest warrant, Adnan (pseudonym) was mistakenly arrested in Newark, New Jersey. The brief imprisonment led the criminal court judge to dismiss the incident and demand that Adnan’s arrest record be deleted. A few days later, Adnan began to receive mysterious text messages from several “reputation management” companies that promised to help him delete his portrait photos from the Internet.A few days later That, He received an email from a company that specializes in “arrest-related content removal.” Perplexed, Adnan contacted the local and state police departments to ensure that he had received a deportation order from the court. It has, but Adnan’s arrest data is already in the hands of data brokers.

Every Three seconds, A person was arrested in the United States, Mainly for low-level events Such as possession of drugs or misconduct. After the person is registered, they may or may not be charged with a crime by the prosecutor, and even if they are charged, the case may end in dismissal. This should be the end of the story.

But for the millions of people arrested each year, the details of their arrests or criminal charges still exist in the digital space because their records are aggregated and sold to data brokers. Criminal records-including electronic criminal court files, public prisons and prison registries, and sex offenders registers-are very useful for the data brokerage industry because they are cheap and contain detailed personal information, including full names, aliases, dates of birth, family Address and photo of the arrested person. The broker then combines this data with consumer data to create profiles for advertising and risk prediction.

The details of the arrest-even if the person is not ultimately charged-may eventually be used in the employment and housing department’s background check report, as Internet material, or as part of a qualified risk prediction model that can determine a person’s credit or insurance.

Former arrest Also become the subject To predatory businesses, such as reputation management and hot-selling services or high-interest loans, these businesses are aimed at people who have passed the legal system. The home addresses and photos of the arrested can be used by many organizations that purchase access to personal data, including private debt collectors, Face Recognition Software Company, Police department In other jurisdictions, and Immigration and customs enforcement.

Criminal records are also very valuable to the amorphous “people search” industry, in which companies buy, crawl, and aggregate public court records, and then sell these records in the form of reports for curious consumers to search for background information. These services usually advertise a person’s name in search results and deliver clickbait to Google to entice you to learn more about a new colleague or date.

All of this is possible because data brokerage is a Almost unregulated practice In the United States.Data brokers and people search sites Operate outside of federal regulations For example, the “Fair Credit Reporting Act”, in fact, these are covered by the law of good faith transparency. For example, because these person search sites are aggregators of public records — and technically do not provide “official” background checks — they do not meet any accuracy or data integrity standards, it is almost impossible for a person to obtain these reports to delete or Fix, even if they are fixed in their internet search results.


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