September 10, 2008
Want to Snoop on Your Date? Try This A New State-Run Web Site Lets Users Pull Up a Rap Sheet on a Convicted Felon for Just $15.
By JAKE ARMSTRONG
It will be a little harder for Georgia's felons to keep their transgressions out of the public eye.
A new state-run Web site, felonsearch.ga.gov, allows anyone with $15 and a little curiosity about job applicants or romantic interests to search instantly for Georgia felony convictions. The site relies on information stored in the Georgia Crime Information Center.
It is not as accurate as a search using fingerprints as an identifier, according to the Georgia Technology Authority, and searches may return rap sheets on individuals with similar identifying information, such as name and age. The search does not require the individual's consent or Social Security number.
However, if a decision not to hire an applicant is based on their rap sheet, employers can face a misdemeanor charge if they fail to disclose that they performed the background check, its results and how it influenced the decision.
As public records are increasingly available online, the Internet is altering assumptions about privacy, said Rebecca Jeschke, spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group.
"People's normal expectation of privacy in their day-to-day lives is changing because of these tools," Jeschke said. "There's simply a lot more information available about people now."
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