Thanks to the internet, we can now find lots of information about just about anybody with ease. You can find addresses, telephone numbers, social media pages, and even arrest records by looking them up online. This is quite controversial, because people don’t want sensitive information about themselves to be available to just about anyone.
The Dangers of Ease of Access
One of the greatest dangers of this accessibility of data is the threat of identity theft. It is now so easy to find out everything there is to know about someone, that it is just as easy to impersonate them as well. And once an identity has been stolen, any records that are created afterwards are likely to be false, and they are likely to be negative as well. Hence, this presents the issue that if someone looks another person up, and finds a wealth of negative information, they must question how valid it actually is.
The Benefits of Ease of Access
The reality is, however, that the records that people can access online have always been open to the public. They just required a little bit more work to obtain. For instance, the Department of Corrections held its own records on arrests and incarcerated individuals, and these could be perused on request. Today, you can simply navigate to their website and search for a new, which is a whole lot easier.
Employers commonly search for arrest records and other background information on potential applicants, as do colleges and universities. It is now also becoming common for people to use this if they meet someone online and are considering meeting them in person. Similarly, people often want to know whether there are any sex offenders in their area, or whether a new neighbor has a good background. It is about public and personal protection, in other words. Indeed, a lot of people have said that being able to perform background checks like this can help them feel safer and that is only a positive thing.
However, there are some laws to be aware of as well. For instance, if you search for arrest records, you must agree that the results of that search will not be used in order to deny someone employment. Of course, to which degree this can be enforced is questionable. However, in the eyes of the law, once someone has served their time, they have paid their debt to society. The exception to the exception, naturally, is if the person in question is a violent or sexual offender and the work involves direct contact with vulnerable people.
The world is developing very rapidly thanks to the internet, and laws are struggling to keep up. This means that, presently, a lot of very personal information can be found in a variety of different locations, and the only laws that exist right now are those pertaining to how this information is used. Whether this will change soon isn’t clear yet.