Sex offenders and the databases that track them are big business these days, but there are downsides. MySpace's recent purge of people erroneously identified by Sentinel Tech Holding Corporation's software included at least one person, a student at the University of Colorado, whose worst offense was reckless driving over a decade ago. The truly baffling part of the story is the time it took for her to be cleared of the accusation.
Read the ABC News report.
MySpace will also provide information about sex offenders to the attorneys general of all 50 states, reversing its position at the threat of subpoenas. The social networking giant acted quickly after a Wired survey that found over 700 registered sex offenders on MySpace.
Read the Wired blog post.
Read the Information Week article.
Read the CNET article.
If this issue has not raised itself at your job, it soon will. I work in education, and we have already had requests to investigate sex offender database systems. If your company has a daycare, you will soon be asked to do the same. As a father, I totally understand parents' desires to keep their children safe, but as an IT professional, I have a responsibility to make sure that there is a reasonable appeals process when I implement such a package. We should not deny education to someone who is wrongly flagged by a third party, so in my job we must be especially vigilant.
What will you do once a salesman convinces your administration that you should subscribe to a sex offender database? Should that be something that is handled by HR or IT? What can be done to minimize or eliminate false positives, and how do we determine if someone is dangerous when they are flagged? Join the discussion.
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