Law Databases Missing A Link

from the if-we're-afraid-enough,-we-won't-care dept

It seems that the proper way to get more funding for law enforcement projects is to make the public very very afraid. Here’s an article from USA Today, talking about how the various law enforcement databases from around the country are not linked together. This may be true, and perhaps the databases should be connected. However, most of the article focuses on the DC sniper case, and how the lack of these connected databases applied in that case. Of course, they come to the conclusion that, even if the databases had been connected, it probably wouldn’t have helped anyone solve the case any quicker. In other words, here’s a problem, here’s an example of that problem in action that everyone knows about – and then let’s admit that the problem wasn’t really a problem in this case at all. They’re just trying to make people worried enough that they don’t think through all the issues associated with conecting all these databases. Instead, they just want people to remember that “oooh, maybe the sniper would have been caught much earlier” even though the article admits he wouldn’t have been.

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Comments on “Law Databases Missing A Link”

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1 Comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Be careful what you wish for

Think about how much of a train wreck credit databases can be. If an entry gets screwed up it’s a near herculaan task to get it cleaned up. That’s bad enough in that it deprives you of economic freedom. Consider how bad it would be to have them all linked up regarding criminal prosecution. What happens when “Joe Smith” in another town gets misindexed as you, Joe Smith, in your hometown. The next thing you know the linked database at the water company gets told you’re a dead beat and turns off your water supply. After all, it’d be good policy to allow the water company to deny services to criminals, right?

The fantasy of reliable database indexing is a significant problem. The import/export/sync issues are tremendously complicated.

I’d greatly prefer the inefficiency of REAL PEOPLE being responsible for managing things. Fobbing it off on machines will end up harming way too many innocent people.

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