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

Re: A Quaint Relic From Our Archives on Computer

David B. Horvath, CCP (
Mon, 18 Jun 2007 22:08:21 -0400

Please obscure my email address, you can show my name.

On: Sat, 16 Jun 2007 20:09:54 -0400, I posted and PAT replied:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The difficulty with laws like this is
> they make no allowance for people who have geuinely changed their
> direction in life. If you commit some crime, and you 'do the time',
> then *theoretically* at least, you have been forgiven by society, have
> you not? The rules and laws you mention make a lie out of the
> rehabilitation model, and effectively punish the offender forever.

> Ditto on firearm ownership: The federal and various state/local
> governments absolutely _despise_ the Second Amendment to the
> Constitution, which plainly allows citizens to own firearms. Because
> of this hatred and their wish it did not exist, the various
> governments try throwing up every roadblock of which they can think.
> If you did thus and so, then you cannot own a gun, etc. All of these
> 'negative' laws on what you cannot own or cannot do once your term has
> been finished have the effect of punishing the offender forever, in a
> backdoor sense. When you are no longer being punished, your full
> rights as a citizen should be returned to you, but that would, in
> turn, make mock of the corrections industry, which the governments
> really support. PAT]

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!

Of course, there is a big difference between a youthful indiscretion
(think appearance in a "girls gone wild" video) and a conviction for a
crime. I agree that someone should not face job discrimination for
appearing in a video (or consuming certain substances) 5 or more years
ago. Or because a family member did something terrible (where the
prospective employee was not involved).

There was a discussion thread in one of the privacy lists (computer
privacy digest IIRC) where the original poster complained about the
privacy implications of old newspaper articles being published/indexed
on the web. It suddenly made it hard for someone to hide from their
past (that was important enough to make the news).

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.

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.

The biggest issue facing an "ex-con" is employment. Most employers do
not want to hire convicted felons. These people tend to be lower
educated and live in lower socio-economic brackets before being
convicted. Afterwards, it is even harder for them to find a decent job
-- even where regulations do not prohibit employment. I'm not sure how
we can fix this as a society.

Before someone yells at me, I know I am generalizing about education
and socio-economic bracket. I am speaking about tendencies and
generalities, not specific cases.

- David

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