It's a steal: $6 buys a criminal historygreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
It's a steal: $6 buys a criminal history
By DAVID REARDON
Suspicious neighbours, prospective girlfriends and general sticky-beaks will be able to check the criminal records of friends and associates under a controversial world-first Internet service.
For as little as $6, a Melbourne-based company, CrimeNet, will provide details over the Internet about individuals convicted of a serious crime, from fraud to pedophilia.
The new venture, launched in Perth yesterday, drew heavy criticism from civil libertarians and academics, who claimed it would breed community fear and play into the hands of vigilantes.
But the CrimeNet site proved a hit with Internet users on its first day of operation, with more than 5,000 people an hour jamming the Web page by mid-morning.
CrimeNet's manager, Mr Roy Hampton, a former Victorian police detective, admitted that the database - containing the names and details of 4,000 convicted criminals - was by no means comprehensive.
He said most of the details were gleaned from Melbourne and Perth newspapers. The company's eight staff also collated information from the courts.
Details of convicted criminals are cross-referenced by name, type of offence and their occupation. The database also contains a list of pedophiles, missing and wanted people and details of unsolved crimes.
Mr Hampton denied that the service had the potential to breach civil liberties, saying all the information was already in the public domain. CrimeNet simply made access to that information easier.
"If somebody has handed over their civil rights by being involved in a major crime then that is their fault and the public has a right to know," Mr Hampton said.
CrimeNet is not linked to any Australian law enforcement agency. However, Western Australia's Assistant Police Commissioner, Mr Bob Kucera, threw his weight behind the venture.
Mr Kucera said he had no problem with the concept as long as the information was checked for accuracy and offenders' names were eventually removed in accordance with spent conviction legislation.
But the president of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, Mr Kevin O'Rourke, said he was horrified by the service, saying it would encourage vigilante action.
"In a newspaper or court record, this information might be useful in a historical sense but when it's aggregated together it only has one purpose - and that is to annoy, harass and intimidate the people named," he said.
Mr O'Rourke said the apparently limited method of data collection could mean successful appeals and quashed convictions would go unrecorded on the site.
The president of the West Australian Council of Civil Liberties, Mr Peter Weygers, said two-thirds of people convicted of a crime never broke the law again and it was cruel to subject them to ongoing punishment by publicising their offences on the Internet.
I think it was 1st December 1991 that Federal Legislation stopped abuse of personal privacy in Australia. This act of Parliament supposedly does have teeth. Unfortunately I've seen how mal-practice works and now this article takes it one step further. The persons who have put up this web facility must be sure of their safety. I know several dudes who will behave in a genuine assertive way if they feel ill done by. It'll be an unexpected RIP...
Regards from an odd address...
-- Pieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 02, 2000
Be sure to scroll down the page at this link.
There's more info out there about you than you think.
-- (?@?.!), May 02, 2000.