Shocking move in the removal of privacy

In a breath taking move, Judith Collins, the Minister of Justice has announced placing all courts cases and convictions up on the net. In a nutshell, you can type in someones name, and see if they have any “legal history”. This is absolutely shocking, but as usual, short sighted morons like the sensible sentencing trust are all over themselves. Collins herself claims this will reduce crime. Absolute rubbish!!!

If you think about it for a minute, every time you apply for a job, someone can do a background check. Okay, for sensitive vacancies, like a school teacher for arguments sake, that would be appropriate, but currently they have to ask you to volunteer the information, and I have no problem with this. But potentially it gets worse. You apply for insurance, or go to open a bank account, they do a background check on you. You might have a cannabis conviction from twenty years ago, and they can turn you down, without so much as an explanation. And imagine, you go shopping with your EFT-POS card, and the store can match your transaction to all your previous sins, refuse your patronage. Try joining a political party, like the Greens (although I suspect ACT and National are far more likely to start filtering their membership), and they show you the door.

Then there is the risk of vigilante action. Again, you may have done something years ago, paid your dues to society, and are trying to make a genuine go of things. Only, your neighbours decide to run you out of town. The “Clean Slate Act”, which effectively hides any offending that is over seven years old, unless it offending against a child, or you have been inside, just goes out the window.

In a nutshell, you will create an entire group of seriously marginalized people, who, despite the Governments more stick and less carrot approach to employment, will be trapped on the dole, unable to gain employment. Once an offender has offended once, there is absolutely no incentive to “be good”, as the damage is done. The worst that can happen to you, you can end up in jail, but after being stuck on the benefit, that might seem like a tempting option. I cannot for the life of me see that being good for the nations offending rate.

More strikingly, Maori and Pacific Islanders will be massively disadvantaged by this. Statistically, by the time a Maori male reaches the age off 33, there is a 50% chance of them having a conviction against their name. That is a lot of people to marginalize.

Finally, what happens if you go overseas? Many young people go on the “big OE’, typically to places like London. Imagine if you were in the situation that you were a student activist during your time at University, and were arrested and charged at a protest meeting (and convicted). The police like nothing better than to put students in the can … You reach London, hunting down the dream job, only to be turned down for being a “subversive”. Unlikely? Think again.

And if you have been falsely accused and convicted? You are buggered.


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