Police Officers Facing Potential Felony Charges After Using Government Databases To Screen Potential Dates
from the we-need-all-this-info-for-several-reasons:-here's-one-of-them dept
Court documents show that Fairfield Police Officers Stephen Ruiz and Jacob Glashoff used company time and equipment to search for women on internet dating sites.
Just a bad idea, whether you’re a government employee or engaged in the private sector rat race. In almost every case, using work computers (while on the clock) to surf dating sites will be a violation of company/agency policy. But there’s more.
Court documents allege the officers then used a police-issued computer to look up the women they found appealing in a confidential law enforcement database that connects to the DMV and state and federal records.
There’s not a ton of commentary to add here. The basic issue is this: many, many people have access to personal information that the government demands you provide in exchange for essential items like driver’s licenses, vehicle/home titles, etc. Connected to these databases is one used to house information on every person booked by police (notably, not every person convicted or even every person charged).
Some people place a lot of trust in those who have access to this information. This trust is often misplaced. Many others place no trust in those who have this access and yet, there is very little they can do without placing their personal information in the hands of people they actively distrust.
Having verifiable records on hand is a safeguard against fraud and other criminal activity… by the public. The internal safeguards meant to protect citizens from untoward actions by public servants are ultimately useless because the government far too frequently refuses to take serious actions against those who abuse the public’s trust. People are given paid suspensions or are allowed to transfer out of the agency rather than face more severe consequences. These two officers face the possibility of criminal charges (after being reported by another officer — kudos to him or her) but in the meantime, both are still on duty and fully paid. Innocent until proven guilty, sure, but it would seem the police department should have caught this before it became a problem severe enough that felony charges are even being discussed. Externally, police are issuing tickets for expired vehicle tags and other minor lapses. Internally, no one can apparently be bothered to monitor access of sensitive info.
Defenders of surveillance and the wholesale collection of personal information by government entities often claim the Googles and Twitters of the world are just as disinterested in your privacy as any government agency. But you can opt out of Google, Twitter, et al. You can choose to not participate. The government, for the most part, isn’t optional. There’s no TOS you can read before deciding to do business elsewhere. Your information is gathered, stored and rifled through by any number of people, some of whom are doing it just because their positions give them access.