Reformed Criminals Haunted By Digital Versions Of Their Past Selves

from the scrubbing-the-past dept

There's been a lot of talk this past week about the damage that can be done to an individual's reputation through online message boards. The discussion centered around a certain website for law students that many claim is a hotbed of defamatory statements that can hurt students' employment prospects. Still, it's not clear that the site is really a problem, or that employers are really taking what's said on the site into account when making hiring decisions. But there's no question that many employers do take steps to find out about prospective employees, whether it's through Google or other databases of criminal activity. As we've mentioned in the past, Google has become a digital permanent record, preventing people from leaving behind embarrassing moments from their past. People with criminal records face their own set of challenges. Often these records make it hard for them to get jobs; even if they get their convictions officially expunged or reduced, it can be very difficult to get those keeping the databases to make the changes. And if the changes aren't made, then it's meaningless to talk about what the official record is. It doesn't help that the leading company in charge of such a database already has a poor track record when it comes to keeping its data accurate. Even if it's difficult, at least there is a protocol for getting these things fixed. If you had a night of drunken debauchery that got written about on people's online diaries, there's no official channels to go through. In either case, whether it's an embarrassing incident on Google or an old felony, the best thing is to establish a more recent positive track record, and hope that that's what gets noticed.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    first post, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 5:18pm

    Is anyone really that important?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Wolf0579, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 5:52pm

    YES!

    Me, of course!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Casper, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 5:58pm

    Don't do stupid things..

    If you do something stupid, you deserve what you get. People always say they should get a fresh start, but thats up to who's giving you the start. Your past is your past and you can't change it, so you might as well accept responsibility and move on. If I do something embarrassing, I can laugh at myself. If I do something idiotic, I learn from it. No matter what, I don't sit around complaining and blaming it on everyone else or on technology. Besides, everyone else gets a good laugh when other people do stupid things.

     

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  4.  
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    Charles Griswold, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 6:36pm

    Devil's Advocate

    The solution is simple. Be more careful about what you do. Don't commit petty larceny. Don't have nights of drunken debauchery. There was a time when we could be fairly confident about our anonymity amidst the teeming masses of humanity. We could leave our past behind us simply by moving to another city, or even another part of the same city.

    Those days are behind us. It's time for us to grow up and take responsibility for what we do, because our past can (and probably will) come back to haunt us.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 8:02pm

    Drunken debauchery

    is what Mexico is for!

     

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  6.  
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    Sean, Mar 13th, 2007 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Don't do stupid things..

    It's not the erring part that is the problem, it's the forgiving. Long after someone has paid their debt to society their record can haunt them, and hurt their chances for employment, residence, credit, etc. This unofficial digital record certainly won't help their chances.

     

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  7.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 6:23am

    Two problems here...

    Having an embarrasing moment or criminal record isn't the problem. The problems are:

    1. How does a person with felony conviction prove that they have been discriminated against. Remember it's illegal to discriminate based on criminal past.

    2. It seems now that employers think they are clever by searching the net for info(i.e. dirt) on potential employees. Hell what's next hiring a P.I. to follow potential employees around for a few weeks find out "if she/he is a good candidate for the company"? Yes potential employees may lie but I knew that a company was trying to dig up dirt about me behind my back that would make me think twice about working for them in the first place. If they treat like people that before they get hired image what the company will treat them like if actually joined the company.

     

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  8.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 6:36am

    multiple identities

    It would almost certainly help to use more than one name onlime. This way, you can let your inner troll out under some names, and behave under others. Not making it easy for others to match your screen name to your real name is also a good idea if your are going to say anything which coul be troublesome.
    If people remembered that posting on one site under teh name fred blogs, and linking to forums which say that the Admin is called randomName, people will asociate what randomName says and does with im, including the story about what a group of your mates got up to when drunk.
    Then, depending on how much effort the people doing the digging go into, if your forum moderator posts a story about Fred, they might guess that your are he.

    In my case, I have almost the oposite problem of most people, since |333173|3|_||3 is far more distinctive than my real name, meaning that I have to behave more under this name than my real one, assuming I ever use my real name online, which i don't.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 6:52am

    Re: Two problems here...

    "How does a person with felony conviction prove that they have been discriminated against. Remember it's illegal to discriminate based on criminal past."

    Not sure if I follow you. Are you talking about felons that have served their time? Or possibly felons that have had convictions exponged or have been pardoned?

    Day Care providers and public schools screen out sex offenders.

    There are numerous crimes that will keep a person from getting a job on airport property.

    Not to mention, any job that might require that the person carry a fire arm.

     

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  10.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Two problems here...

    Not sure if I follow you. Are you talking about felons that have served their time? Or possibly felons that have had convictions exponged or have been pardoned?

    Both. If you have served your time then your debt is paid so what right does an employer have to determine that you haven't be denying you a job? Most of the time pardons and expungings (is that a word?) are done when the person is innocent. Why should an innocent person not be considered for a job?


    Day Care providers and public schools screen out sex offenders.


    And this is one of the few times I agree with the "protect the children" ranting of politicians.


    There are numerous crimes that will keep a person from getting a job on airport property.

    Not to mention, any job that might require that the person carry a fire arm.


    If the felony relates to the job the applicant is seeking then as a matter of security I would agree with it but if I serve time for a felony conviction of computer crimes what does that have to do with me applying for a job in an auto repair shop or as a cook in a restraunt?

     

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  11.  
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    Silverlock, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 8:18am

    Not True ...

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but discrimination in hiring someone based on a criminal past is absolutely legal. There are restrictions (i.e. convictions only within the last seven years, must be verified by identifying the actual court case, cannot be based on arrest record or database listing alone, etc.), but employers have every right to deny employment to someone based on a criminal conviction in their past. That's where the term "background check" comes from ...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Richard Ahlquist, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 9:26am

    I think this is great!

    Yes, google my name and you will find many things attributed to me over the years if you dig (not to mention other people with the same name). But as I blogged recently http://www.patentlystupid.com it can be a great tool. The case in point was a local 'Momma's" group my wife joined. They had let a single divorced father join out of kindness. Turns out the guy is facing a couple counts of child molestation and public indecency. He hasn't been convicted yet so isn't a registered sex offender (though he has a public indecency conviction from a few years back).

    Innocent or guilty I am thankful for search engines like google that allow me to help protect my family from potential trouble like this guy may or may not pose.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Not True ...

    Very well I concede to your bursting of my bubble.

    But at the same time I still say that despite it being legal that it just doesn't seem right. It just gets on my nerves to no end that people say that criminals should be dealt with but then after the ones that really do want to change do the time for their crime and are still turned away just because they have a criminal past. Yes it should be difficult to earn back the trust and faith of the general public after serving time but these days it is damn near impossible.

     

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  14.  
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    Search EnginesWEB, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 5:32pm

    False Arrests & Open Suspects

    Sadly even those who are victims of false arrest - or innocents who were found NOT GUILTY will also suffer.

    They could also be discrimiinated against, especially if the case was high profile.

    Also, they will not be able to hide misfortune from the public - j

    RAPE victims have anonimity - because their names are not disclosed - but suspects are disclosed, even if there were no arrests made.

     

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  15.  
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    b2, Mar 29th, 2007 @ 1:56pm

    badboys

    i was wondering if anyone who had a dirty past doesn't regret doing their naughty things?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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