Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Instant background checks

Here's a new twist to the dating game -- instant background checks. Asked out? Not so fast. Before saying yes or no, you could do a push-button check of domestic violence records under a bill being considered by state lawmakers.

So begins an article in the Sacramento Bee (hat tip: CR), adding a new twist to the phenomenon on of online reputations.



"Obviously, knowledge is power," said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco. "If you encounter someone who you think is a little bit creepy, you would have the ability to check."

Ma's proposal, Assembly Bill 1771, would require the state attorney general to create a searchable Web site to identify people convicted of one felony or two misdemeanor domestic violence crimes.

The goal is to provide a resource similar to the state's existing Megan's Law Web site, which identifies sex offenders. A key difference between the two, however, is that the new site would not display photos or addresses of offenders.

Francisco Lobaco of the American Civil Liberties Union said he has not read the bill. But if the goal is to protect the public, he asked, why single out domestic abuse rather than crimes that target victims randomly? "Why not assault with a deadly weapon? Why not robberies?" Lobaco asked.

Yeah why not robberies? What about bunco? And while we're at it, why not people who have been diagnosed HIV positive? Oh wait ... But once you have the tables set up and the queries are written there's really no obstacle to adding any of those records is there?

Modern technology has finally enabled man to answer the existential question: who are you? Just a minute while I look it up on the cell phone.

16 Comments:

Blogger DanMyers said...

Interesting that the FCC just approved the participation of Google in the 700 Mhz cellular auction.

1/16/2008 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger RDS said...

Time to watch GATTACA again!

Everyone was running instant DNA tests on potential dates in that futuristic thriller.

1/16/2008 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

'Public records' finally become public records.

1/16/2008 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger 1389 said...

If records of HIV infection and other STDs were to lose the protection of privacy laws, then there would no longer be any distinction at all between the pubic and the public.

1/16/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger James Barlow said...

I guess that makes Steve Guttenberg a trendsetter. Anyone remember this movie?

Amazon Women on the Moon

1/16/2008 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Mad Fiddler:

Please email me. Your comment on my blog deserves an answer, and I don't know how to reach you.

Always assuming, of course, that the Mad Fiddler here is the same Mad Fiddler that left me a comment. Heh.

1/16/2008 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Nevyn said...

Women looking for a background check on a potential date can do so http://www.WomanSavers.com. Who needs the government to do this when it is already available and free on the net?

1/17/2008 04:27:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

"Yeah why not robberies? What about bunco? And while we're at it, why not people who have been diagnosed HIV positive? Oh wait ... But once you have the tables set up and the queries are written there's really no obstacle to adding any of those records is there?" -- Wretchard

There's clear moral/legal barriers as well as practical obstacles to adding more information to public records databases.

If something's punishable by society (IOW, a crime) it probably should also be public record. If an action is so contrary to the consensus of morality that it warrants the use of force (jail or a fine) that's several steps beyond respecting privacy. And regarding practicality, the loss of criminal privacy is another deterrent to crime.

OTOH, Having HIV or any other medical condition is not a crime. Therefore there's no authority granted to regulate it. Therefore there is no basic right to know someone's medical condition, no matter how convenient it might be to a prospective date. If she wants to be relatively safe from HIV, she should only sleep with men she knows well enough to demand that they be tested (not a bad policy with or without an HIV threat). And regarding practicality, any loss of medical privacy would be a deterrent testing.

1/17/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Data integrity is the key. Craig's List was an early attempt to allow for checking businesses out easily over the Internet, but one anonymous ticked off customer could flood the list with bad reviews or outright lies. E-Bay has a sophisticated system, but would it stand up to a dedicated misinformation campaign by an organized group of conmen or, more seriously, jihadis?

A universal ID would quickly be counterfeited. Efforts to prevent this would be effective against individuals, but not against terrorist supporting governments.

1/17/2008 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Having HIV or any other medical condition is not a crime.

People have been prosecuted for knowingly having sex with AIDS and trying to infect other people. I think the charge was maybe "attempted murder". I'm assuming the crime would be in having AIDS, and not in having sex with a consenting adult.

1/17/2008 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

I'm so glad I'm not single. Everything is so...mechanized...so utterly, coldly, rational. Romance and interest and desire all reduced to a cost-benefit/security analysis. Why bother with love and sex and whether the person you've just met is attactive when what you really want is the promise of safety and profit delivered by a detective and a banker ?

Makes me wanna just junk the computer, leave the big city for my shack in the country and hide. Not just this, but everything. Relationships, politics, sports on steroids, all of it. Just let Hillary and the androids have it.

Not all of this is merlot talking. Am I the only one that thinks the world is too, somehow, fast and too crazy ? Too nailed down ? How much of the fall of the Roman Empire was due to simple sickness and tiredness of dealing with Caesar and his agents and minions? The triumph of barbarism among the non-connected; that is, keeping your heads down, avoiding interaction with the State, relying on hiding in the mass and hoping you weren't one of the ones the bandits chopped. Maybe this was preferable because the alternative of being a citizen got to be too much of a pain in the posterior. Maybe the fall of Rome was just a revolt against a world that changed too quickly, went too fast; where commerce and bureaucracy demanded more of people than they wanted to give.

Just a thought.

1/17/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

another thought: alcohol (including Merlot) is a depressant.

1/17/2008 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Wisconsin has its circuit court records fairly accessible via the web. The site is the Wisconsin Cicruit Court Access Program aka CCAP.

Did you all catch that e-mail Michelle Malkin recently published? The guy from Stevens Point Wisconsin, who Michelle noted had a letter published in the Stevens Point Paper about being civil?

Well WSAW a televison station in nearby Wausau notes Joe Roppe did some court records digging on a political enemy and publishing those details. It doesn't disclose how he got 'em but I imagine via CCAP. It seems the friends and supporters of Joe Roppe did not take kindly to what he had done and Roppe got a lot of heat for it, hence his letter to the Stevens Point Paper and then ironically writes a letter of the type he just wrote against.

Our landlord neglected to CCAP a former neighbor and it cost us dearly in terms of a burglary of some of our gold within a week of them moving in.

I've CCAPed a number of my friends and associates. I never mention my findings to them (unless the record consists of a couple of speeding tickets each separated by years).

1/17/2008 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

I lost a life-long friend --- a hemopheliac who had endured numberless painful and life-threatening hospitalizations, treatments, injections, slow-healing bruises, cuts, and abrasions that would be trivial for most of us. He survived, miraculously, to become an energetic, positive, cheerful, and much-loved adult. Through his auto parts business he got involved in stock-car racing, and sponsored several racers and their teams. This was made possible by the isolation of blood clotting factors by medical researchers. A monthly injection made his life approximately normal. Hundreds of pints of blood had to be processed to accumulate the clotting factor for a single monthly dose for a single hemophelia patient.

My friend contracted HIV from these injections, and died less than two years later of complications.

That tragedy, and the thousands of others like it, came before the human immunodeficiency virus was understood. But now we know better. Or should.

G-d help us.

We can be sued for praying in a public school, fined and even imprisoned for murmuring any of a long list of words that offend acutely sensitive ones, and denied employment in many posts for holding conservative views, or being insufficiently ethnic or too old. We can be denied insurance coverage for attempting sky-diving or hang-gliding --- or even for owning handguns, if some fanatics have their way. We are routinely required to inform insurance companies if we elect to smoke, drink the occasional dram of single malt, take hallucinogens (whether for recreation or spiritual quest,) or fail to spend the recommended number of weekly hours on the treadmill, or if our waistlines exceed some arbitrary measure that seems to shrink each year.

And the insurance companies are granted license to deny us coverage for those and a huge list of other legal but actuarially dicey lifestyle choices.

But if we contract HIV, we are suddenly protected from any inquiries, protected from any restriction upon our behavior or access to care, or insurance coverage. Moreso if we are members of the correct behaviorally-defined group.

In San Francisco in the 1980's, the municipal authorities resisted closing the gay bath-houses for a very long time, even though it was generally acknowledged that these were used as meeting houses for casual sex among strangers. For a brief time, the most notorious places were closed, but they were allowed to re-open. About 2002, reports began to circulate that the latest fad among homosexuals in the Bay area was to seek out unprotected sex with a partner known to be HIV-positive. It's called "bare-backing."

But anyone who objects, or calls such behavior "insane" is shouted down, called "homo-phobic" and threatened with lingering lawsuits.

The entire subject of "public-accessible lists" has been cast into the realm of deep, brain-exploding irrationality.

1/17/2008 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

I once wrote a wee meditation titled "Rights is Wrong", whose thesis was that no rights are divine or absolute, but that each consists of a claim on others. These compete for space and precedence, and in practice always have boundaries: my nose, panic in a theatre, etc. Getting the balance wrong means one right is overreaching its warranted purview, and privacy rights of date rapists and HIV-Appleseeders are good examples.

It is standard fare that those who resist any reduction from "absolute inalienable" status for their favorite right will cite some version of the slippery slope argument: that a little compromise will lead to total collapse and loss. But in practice over-protection and enforcement of one or a few rights over others is far more likely to lead to disastrous abuse.

1/18/2008 02:16:00 AM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

A very good thought Nahncee !

1/18/2008 08:00:00 AM  

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