The background investigator september 2013 edition


Published on

The Background Investigator, published by Steven Brownstein, is the most read informative for the background checking industry.

Published in: Business, Career
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The background investigator september 2013 edition

  1. 1. The Start Of NAPBS By Les Rosen A frequently asked question is how the National Association of Profession- al Background Screeners (NAPBS®) got started. “NAPBS began through the efforts of many people. Steven Brownstein, the editor of The Background Investigator (a newspaper devoted to the screening industry), held the nation’s first screen- ing industry conferences. At a conference in Long Beach, CA in April, 2002, Brownstein encouraged the attendees to think in terms of a na- tional association in order to promote and protect the screening industry. Then in November, 2002, Brownstein and The Background Investigator spon- sored a large national conference in Tampa, Florida, the first NAPBS con- ference. Volume 13 Number 9 September 2013 First Pre-employment Screening Conference Long Beach, CA Photograph by Steven Brownstein From Humble Beginnings To More Than 700 Strong Full Article on Page 2 PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 164 MORTONGROVE, IL Steven Brownstein “On the road”
  2. 2. History Of The NAPBS A frequently asked ques- tion is how the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) got started. Here is an excellent expert from a blog dated Jun-4- 2008 that recounts that his- tory at http:// brettcarlson/ articles/1544647/ Great+Association+Backgr ound+Screeners Background investigations are one of the most in- demand services provided by private investigators. From pre-employment screening, to tenant checks, to corporate due diligence investigations, the need for comprehensive background screening grows every day. This field can be a very lu- crative opportunity for pri- vate detectives to build their businesses. However, unfamiliarity with the many laws and regulations in this area can also lead to catastrophy. It is essential for the PI interested in this line of work to fully under- stand these issues and hold himself to a high profes- sional standard. Luckily, the National As- sociation of Professional Background Screeners is here to help. This organiza- tion is at the forefront of the screening industry, providing its members with the information and re- sources needed to succeed in this growing field. I asked Larry Lambeth, Chairman of the NAPBS, to discuss how the organi- zation was formed: “NAPBS began through the efforts of many people. Steve Brownstein, the edi- tor of The Background In- vestigator (a newspaper devoted to the screening industry), held the nation’s first screening industry conferences. At a confer- ence in Long Beach, CA in April, 2002, Brownstein encouraged the attendees to think in terms of a national association in order to pro- mote and protect the screening industry. In No- vember, 2002, Brownstein and The Background Inves- tigator sponsored a large national conference in Tampa, Florida, attended by over 175 screening pro- fessionals. At this meeting there was widespread sup- port for the formation of an association. A steering committee was formed to act as an interim board to start a background screen- ing association The mem- bers of the interim board were: Les Rosen, Chairperson Sandra Burns Michael Sankey Bill Brudenell Charlotte O’Neill Mike Cool Jack Wallace The interim board, along with other interested mem- bers of the screening indus- try, met in Arizona in Janu- ary, 2003 and again in Washington D.C. in April, 2003 to form the associa- tion. The interim Member- ship and Ethics committee met in Dallas, Texas in the Spring of 2003. In order to provide seed money for the group, in early 2003 a num- ber of screening firms stepped forward and gener- ously donated the necessary funds to launch the associa- tion and to retain the ser- vices of a professional management firm, IMI As- sociation Executives. A membership drive was held in the last half of 2003, re- sulting in over 200 mem- bers. Firms that joined be- fore the first election were entitled to use the phrase “Founding Members” with the NAPBS logo. NAPBS began its first full year of operations with an elected Board of Directors in 2004. On March 29-30, 2004, more than 225 indi- viduals representing over 175 companies converged on Scottsdale, AZ for the inaugural Annual Confer- ence of the National Asso- ciation of Professional Background Screeners. We have close to 700 members in 16 countries now. ” ESR was pleased that its president, Les Rosen, was voted to be on the first board of directors and se- lected as the first co-chair of NAPBS. Graduation Is Just A Click Away No classes, no hassle, the advertisement on Facebook promised. And all for a fee of just US$199 (S$253). Though affixed with the Singapore Ministry of Edu- cation's (MOE) logo, the Facebook ad leads to an external website called Global Accredited Degrees, which offers "100 per cent legal, accredited and origi- nal" degrees with "no ex- ams" and "no coursework". For US$199, you can get yourself a bachelor's degree from one of the "top uni- versities around the world". Top up another US$26 and you have yourself a doctorate. After signing up for a de- gree on the website, The New Paper was e-mailed by Belltown University, pur- portedly an online universi- ty. The "university" has its own website that looks gen- uine and has a toll-free number listed. But an Internet search of the faculty members re- vealed an identical list of faculty members on another online university's website. Responding to queries from The New Paper, MOE clarified that it was not as- sociated with the website and company. But it prompted the ministry to alert the public about such fake degree mills. In a post on its Facebook page on Wednesday, MOE said: "It has come to our attention that the MOE logo is being used without au- thorisation by ads on Face- book that claim to offer de- grees approved by MOE." Authenticity The ministry also urged the public to check the authenticity of the degrees offered. More than a decade after degree fraud in Singapore first made the news, fake academic certificates are still easily available. Just last month, following a crackdown by the Minis- try of Manpower, 25 for- eigners from Myanmar, In- dia and the Philippines were charged in court for lying to obtain S Passes or forging certificates. Twenty were jailed for four weeks and the rest served 20 days' jail each as they were unable to pay court fines of $5,000. In January, a Singaporean was jailed a year for using fake degrees and forged testimonials to get jobs in the human resource indus- try. In an attempt to guard themselves against this trend, employers are asking recruitment firms to do checks on degrees. PUBLISHER Steven Brownstein CONTRIBUTORS: Mike Sankey, Les Rosen, Dennis Brownstein, Derek Hinton, Jamie Brownstein, Michael Brownstein COVER PHOTOGRAPH: 1st Pre-Employment Screening Conference COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: Steven Brownstein PURPOSE: “Dedicated to pre-employment screenings everywhere” The Background Investigator is published by Steven Brownstein, LLC, PMB 1007, Box 10001, Saipan, MP 96950. Phone: 670-256-7000. Copyright 2013 by Steven Brownstein. Some material in this publication must not be repro- duced by any method without the written permission of the copyright holder. Meet Steven Brownstein On LinkedIn Download The Background Investigator Current Edition (and archive, too!)
  3. 3. Reprinted from The Background Investigator June 2002 Volume 2 Number 6 Edition Reprinted from The Background Investigator First Pre-employment Screening Conference Article
  4. 4. Alberta Nova Scotia British Columbia Ontario Manitoba Prince Edward Islands New Brunswick Quebec New Foundland Saskatchewan Northwest Territories Yukon Territories POINT TO POINT SERVICE XR2 Criminal Search PUERTO RICO The ‘XR2’ Puerto Rico search is insurance that you are getting the best possible results. We’ve all been doing this long enough... Shouldn’t you be offering your clients the best? Call 1-866-909-6678 Straightline International Includes London city-wide magistrate court checks Better Than The Police -/-/-/-/-/- Straightline International’s Puerto Rico search will get you the hits the police and courts miss. When you REALLY need something done, call STEVEN BROWNSTEIN
  5. 5. The Public Record Update A Service from BRB Publications, Inc. There is a lot of misinformation around about public record searching. How many of the following six statements about public record search- ing do you believe to be true? •It’s all free online. Why should I have to pay for it? •I can find all the information I need using Google. •To find criminal records, all I need to do is use a national database. •I do background checks for employers, but I am not a consumer reporting agency because I don’t provide credit reports. •I can do all my public record searching with my membership web account that gives me access to 35,000+ databases of public records. •Certain records may be open to the public in one state, but in another state they are not open. The reality is that only the last statement is true. The first five statements above represent common myths thought to be true by individuals who are looking for the easy way to find public records. If you are someone who practices due diligence when using public records for decision- making and know the first five statements are false, you are already a step ahead. —————————————— New Redaction Law - Illinois Civil Case Documents Effective July 1, 2013, personal identify information will not be allowed in documents or exhibits filed for proceedings in Illinois civil court cases. Per Supreme Court Rule 138, Personal Identity Information is defined as following: •Birth Dates •Social Security numbers •Mother's maiden names •Driver's license numbers •Financial account numbers •Debit and credit card numbers The key piece element to those using public records in their normal course of business is the redaction of birth dates. Without even a partial DOB to use as a match, it will be a struggle to properly identify a person and avoid a false-positive. But this element is quite common in civil records. The rule also states: "A court may order other types of information redacted or filed confidentially, consistent with the purpose and procedures of this rule." If a document is filed with personal information, the person whose personal iden- tity is affected may move that the court redact the information. If granted, the court will still have a sealed copy of the unredacted document. A copy of Rule 138 is found at: We welcome your comments and observations about The Public Record Update Please address your comments to Michael Sankey at Making copies of any part of the Public Record Update© for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is obtained from BRB Publications. Phone - 480-829-7475 Public Record Retriever Network - The CRA Help Desk - BRB's Free Public Record Resource Center - Motor Vehicle Record Decoder - BRB's Public Record Blog - BRB's Bookstore - BRB's Public Record Blog -
  6. 6. Falsified Background Checks Show Importance of Accreditation Standards for Private Screening Firms In a story demonstrating the importance of accredi- tation standards for private background screening firms, the Federal Times reports that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – which oversees background investigations for the government – is in- vestigating a growing list of cases involving the alleged falsifying of security clear- ance background checks while a “consistent back- log” of similar cases awaits investigation. The complete story is available on the Federal Times website at http:// article/20130707/ ACQUISI- TION03/307070009/ Backlog-bogus-background -checks-grows. The Federal Times reports “at least 19 background in- vestigators or researchers” have plead guilty to, or face sentencing for, falsifying background checks since 2008. OPM’s Inspector General Patrick McFarland told lawmakers he is work- ing on nine similar cases and has a backlog of 36 cases awaiting investigation due to a lack of resources. According to the Federal Times, the government has spent more than $1.5 mil- lion to reopen falsified in- vestigations to ensure ap- plicants deservedly re- ceived clearances. In a related story reported on ESR News, the private contractor that conducted a security clearance back- ground check on Edward Snowden in 2011 that gave him access to classified documents from the Na- tional Security Agency (NSA) that he later leaked to the media is under inves- tigation by the federal gov- ernment for allegedly con- ducting inadequate back- ground checks. OMG In- spector General McFarland told a Senate panel “there may be some problems” with Snowden’s back- ground check. Falsified background checks show the im- portance of accreditation standards for private screening firms. In 2010, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) launched the Background Screening Agency Accredi- tation Program (BSAAP) to promote best practices, consumer protection, and legal compliance. The Background Screening Cre- dentialing Council (BSCC) oversees the accreditation process to ensure screening firms that apply meet meas- urable standards of compe- tence. To become NAPBS ac- credited, background screening organizations must pass a rigorous onsite audit conducted by an inde- pendent auditing firm that examines policies and pro- cedures related to six criti- cal areas of screening: Con- sumer Protection, Legal Compliance, Client Educa- tion, Product Standards, Service Standards, and General Business Practices. A copy of the accreditation standards as well as a list of accredited screening firms is available on the NAPBS website at http:// EEOC Chair Says Criminal Background Checks by Employers Not Banned In a letter to the Wall Street Journal responding to the June 15, 2013 article ‘Banning Background Checks,’ Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor- tunity Commission (EEOC), denied the arti- cle’s suggestion that the EEOC believes criminal background checks by em- ployers are “racist” and that the agency wants to ban the practice. The letter to the Wall Street Journal from Chair Berrien is available at article/ SB10001424127887323893 504578555722405188406. html. The letter from EEOC Chair Berrien titled ‘We Don’t Ban Background Checks’ reads as follows: Your editorial ‘Banning Background Checks’ (June 15) suggests that the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor- tunity Commission (EEOC) believes that criminal back- ground checks are “racist.” This claim is wrong. Neither Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 nor the EEOC prohibit em- ployers from conducting background checks. Em- ployers are also free to use background checks in mak- ing employment decisions, subject to the express long- standing, well-established requirement of Title VII that, where they do use such information and it has a disparate impact against a protected group, it must be related to the job in ques- tion and consistent with business necessity. The EEOC’s position in these cases is neither un- precedented nor novel. In 1987, under then-Chairman Clarence Thomas, during the Reagan administration, the EEOC issued guidance to employers that use back- ground checks about how to do so lawfully in accord- ance with Title VII. Guid- ance on the subject was al- so issued in 1990 under Chairman Evan Kemp, dur- ing the George H.W. Bush administration. Last year, the commission updated the guidance; however, it by no means marks a sea change in EEOC practice or policy. Our lawsuits against BMW and Dollar General do not challenge the employers’ decisions to conduct back- ground checks. They in- stead challenge screening processes that have a dis- proportionate impact on African Americans and that the commission believes are not job related and con- sistent with business neces- sity. Finally, both the up- dated EEOC guidance on employers’ consideration of arrest and conviction rec- ords and approval to file these cases received bipar- tisan support in the com- mission. Jacqueline A. Berrien Chair U.S. Equal Employ- ment Opportunity Commis- sion Washington Les Rosen’s Corner A monthly column By Lester Rosen, Attorney at Law
  7. 7. Social Media Password Privacy Laws Recently Passed In Several States Legislation has been intro- duced or is pending in at least 36 states so far in 2013 to prevent employers from requesting usernames and passwords to social media websites and person- al Internet accounts of em- ployees and job applicants, according the National Conference of State Legis- latures (NCSL). Eight states – Arkansas, Colora- do, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington – have en- acted such legislation in 2013. A current list of all social media password pri- vacy legislation is available at issues-research/telecom/ employer-access-to-social- media-passwords- 2013.aspx. In most cases, “social me- dia” is broadly defined un- der these laws to include email accounts, videos, photographs, blogs, pod- casts, instant messages, electronic mail (e-mail), Internet website profiles, and standard social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Most of the laws also in- clude exceptions when passwords are necessary to comply with a state or fed- eral law or regulation or to access the employer’s own internal computer or infor- mation system. The follow- ing states have passed so- cial media password priva- cy legislation involving employer access in recent months: Nevada Assembly Bill 181: Approved by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval on June 13, 2013, A.B. 181 makes it illegal for a Neva- da employer to require, re- quest, or suggest that an employee or a prospective employee disclose the user name, password, or other access information to per- sonal social media ac- counts. Under the law – which takes effect October 1, 2013 – employers cannot fire, discipline, discriminate against, or fail to hire or promote, employees or pro- spective employees who refuse, decline, or fail to provide social media infor- mation. Nevada A.B. 181 is available at http:// Session/77th2013/Bills/AB/ AB181_EN.pdf. Oregon House Bill 2654: Signed into law by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber on May 22, 2013, HB 2654 – which becomes effective January 1, 2014 – makes it an unlawful for employers to force employees or job applicants to provide access to their personal protected social media accounts. Em- ployers also cannot gain access to social media sites by requiring employees or applicants to “friend” them on their social media ac- counts or compel employ- ees to access a personal so- cial media account in the presence of the employer. Oregon HB 2654 is availa- ble at http:// measures/hb2600.dir/ hb2654.intro.html. Washington Senate Bill 5211: Signed into law by Washington Governor Inslee on May 21, 2013, S.B. 5211 prohibits em- ployers from accessing so- cial networking accounts of employees and applicants through: requiring disclo- sure of log-in information; asking for access to the ac- count in (i.e. shoulder surf- ing); requiring the ac- ceptance of a “friend” re- quest from the employer; requiring a change in priva- cy settings to make the ac- count accessible to the em- ployer; and using log-in credentials inadvertently obtained through the em- ployer’s monitoring of cor- porate electronic resources. The bill takes effect on July 28, 2013. Washington Sen- ate Bill 5211 is available at billinfo/summary.aspx? bill=5211. Colorado House Bill 13- 1046: Approved by Colora- do Governor John W. Hick- enlooper on May 11, 2013, H.B. 13-1046 prohibits em- ployers from suggesting, requesting, or requiring em- ployees or applicants to dis- close their user name, pass- word, or access information to “personal electronic communications device.” Employers also cannot compel employees or appli- cants to add anyone to their list of social media contacts or cause employees or applicants to change their privacy set- tings associated with a so- cial networking account. The bill took effect upon signing. Colorado H.B. 13- 1046 is available at http:// bills/2013A/HB13-1046/. Arkansas House Bill 1901: Signed by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe on April 22, 2013, H.B. 1901 prohibits an employer from requiring, requesting, sug- gesting, or causing a cur- rent or prospective employ- ee from: disclosing usernames or passwords for a social media accounts; adding anyone to the list of social media contacts; or changing privacy settings of social media accounts. Employers many not threat- en to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize cur- rent employees or fail or refuse to hire prospective employees for exercising their rights under the new law. Arkansas H.B. 1901 is available at http:// bills/2013/HB1901/.
  8. 8. Dennis Brownstein’s Extreme Court News   Fired Judge Blames Elf For Court Mishaps The Philippines Supreme Court has asked a fired judge who claims he is as- sisted by three elves to stop making threats of “ungodly reprisal.” The court kicked Florenti- no Floro Jr. off the bench largely because of his belief in the supernatural, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.). A medical clinic determined that the judge was suffering from psycho- sis. Since then Floro has bat- tled to get his job back, ap- pearing on TV and winning converts who seek his heal- ing powers. At the same time, a series of unfor- tunate incidents have be- fallen the supreme court justices or their families, including serious illnesses and car accidents. Floro says the person to blame for the mishaps is one of the elves, "Luis," a "king of kings" who is an avenger. He told the news- paper that the elves help him predict the future, but he has never consulted them when issuing judicial decisions. The Supreme Court has not reversed any of Floro’s decisions since firing him. Judge Holds Himself In Contempt Judge Raymond Voet in Ionia County, Michigan, has a simple courtroom rule: any device that goes off in court earns the owner a contempt citation. Rules like this cut down on disruptions and engen- der a reverence for the courts that is often lacking. Judge Vote takes his rule so seriously that he applied it to himself when his phone went off. Chicago court that Chicago’ researchers do not know about. This can be very costly for you as files are sometimes kept at this location.
  9. 9. Cruise Lines Report Crime Statistics Three major cruise lines have posted on their Web sites the number of serious crimes reported on their ships, the first public airing of such statistics. The lines, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line, released the figures in the wake of a Senate bill that would require all cruise lines that use American ports to report crime fig- ures. The data from the lines, which have a nearly 80 per- cent combined market share, detail the number of suspicious deaths or homi- cides, assaults, rapes, kid- napping and thefts greater than $10,000 reported by passengers or crew. The numbers suggest a low crime rate: there were no homicides on the lines this year, for example. The proposed law that prompted the change was introduced by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, a West Vir- ginia Democrat and chair- man of the Senate Com- merce Committee. In re- sponse to the posted data, Mr. Rockefeller said in a statement, “It’s notable to see they’re trying, by vol- untarily posting some crime data online, but serious gaps still remain in the in- formation they’re making available.” He added, “I’m convinced the only way we’re going to make a meaningful difference for consumers is by taking leg- islative action.”
  10. 10. FBI Preliminary 2012 Crime Statistics The new preliminary Uni- form Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics for 2012 indicate that when com- pared to data for 2011, the number of violent crimes reported by law enforce- ment agencies around the country increased 1.2 per- cent during 2012, while the number of property crimes decreased 0.8 percent. Among the highlights of the preliminary report: ■Overall, when compared to 2011 figures, the West experienced the largest in- crease in reported violent crime (up 3.3 percent), and the Northeast experienced the only decrease (down 0.6 percent). ■The Northeast was the only part of the country where the four violent crime categories saw de- creases across the board— murder (down 4.4 percent), forcible rapes (down 0.2 percent), robberies (down 1.4 percent), and aggravat- ed assaults (down 0.1 per- cent). ■The largest rise in report- ed violent crime (up 3.7 percent) was in cities with populations of 500,000- 999,999. ■The West experienced the only increase in reported property crime (up 5.2 per- cent), while the number of property crimes dropped 1.6 percent in the North- east, 2.1 percent in the Midwest, and 3.5 percent in the South. ■The number of re- ported motor vehicle thefts grew by 10.6 percent in the West while showing de- clines in the Northeast (down 7.9 percent), the Midwest (down 3.1 per- cent), and the South (down 2.9 percent). ■The number of arson inci- dents—tallied separately from other property crimes because of various levels of participation by reporting agencies—fell 1.2 percent. The Most Dangerous Cities In America After falling for five con- secutive years, the number of violent crimes across the United States rose by 1.2% in 2012. Based on data pub- lished by the Federal Bu- reau of Investigation (FBI), the increase was even greater in some of Ameri- ca’s largest cities. In 2012, for the third year in a row, Flint, Michigan had the highest violent crime rate in the country. According to the FBI, vio- lent crime includes murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravat- ed assault. In some cases, the cities with the highest violent crime rate, includ- ing Flint and Oakland, had high rates in all four cate- gories. However, most of the most violent cities tend to do very poorly only in a few categories. Crime in these cities is typically not limited to just violent crime. Three cities — Birmingham, St. Louis and Oakland — were among the 10 worst cities in the nation for both vio- lent crime and property crime. In some of the most dangerous cities, specific types of property crime were especially common. Flint and Cleveland had among the highest burglary rates, while Oakland, De- troit and St. Louis had among the highest rates of vehicle theft. The economies of many of the most dangerous cities have been in bad shape for years, in some cases long before the Great Recession. The populations of many of the most dangerous cities declined, leaving behind highly impoverished urban centers. The loss of eco- nomic diversity, explained John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban institute, only serves to exacerbate crime in cities like Detroit, Flint, Cleveland and St. Louis. In fact, all the 10 most dangerous cities had pov- erty rates above the nation- al rate of 15.9% in 2011. In half of these cities, more than 30% of the population lived in poverty. Detroit and Flint had poverty rates of more than 40%. “It is very clear that poverty in particular is associated with higher crime rates,” ex- plained Roman. However, the relationship between the two is less cer- tain. It is “very difficult to say whether crime makes places poorer, or poverty causes more crime,” Ro- man noted. In many of the nation’s most dangerous cities, un- employment is also ex- tremely high. Seven of the 10 cities with the highest levels of violent crime had unemployment rates above 10% in 2012, much higher than the national unem- ployment rate of 8.1% that year. In two cities, Detroit and Stockton, the unem- ployment rate was more than 18% last year. Low educational attain- ment also goes hand-in- hand with high crime rates. In all of the 10 most dan- gerous cities, the percent- age of adults with a high school diploma was below the 86% national average. In five of these metro areas, the percentage of adults with a diploma was below 80%. On its website, the FBI instructs readers to avoid comparing city violence because rankings tend to be simplistic and ignore fac- tors that influence crime, as well as the different ways crimes are measured and reported. For this reason, Roman cautioned against directly comparing cities based on their individual crime rates. However, be- cause the cities with the highest and lowest violent crime rates have remained consistent for many years, he believes comparing city ranks was useful. Here are your top 5 most dangerous cities: 5. Memphis 4. St. Louis 3. Oakland 2. Detroit 1. Flint
  11. 11. A Look At Crime Statistics For Flint—The Most Dangerous City In America 1. Flint, Mich. > Violent crimes per 100,000: 2,729.5 > Population: 101,632 > 2012 murders: 63 > Poverty rate: 40.6% > Percentage of adults with high school degree: 82.9% With a staggering 2,729.5 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, no city had a higher violent crime rate than Flint. The city of just 101,632 people had 63 total murders and 1,930 aggra- vated assaults, both the highest relative to the city’s population. Flint also had nationwide highs in burgla- ry rates and arson per 100,000 people. The sheriff of Genesee County, where Flint is lo- cated, proposed a plan to create a violent crime mo- bile response unit that would cost $3 million. However, Governor Rick Snyder rejected the plan because he believed re- sources would be better “integrated into the ongo- ing efforts to make Flint safer.” Like Detroit, Flint has suf- fered economically in re- cent years. The median household income was just $23,380 in 2011, the second-lowest of all 555 cities measured by the U.S. Census Bureau. State Attorneys General from West Virginia, Ala- bama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska South Carolina and Utah have sent a co-signed letter to the EEOC urging the EEOC to reconsider and dismiss the lawsuits filed against Dollar General and BMW. The lawsuits filed by the EEOC against Dollar and BMW allege that the em- ployers’ use of “bright- line” criminal background checks in the hiring process violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Ac- cording to the EEOC, Dol- lar General and BMW vio- lated the disparate impact provision by using general- ly applicable background checks as bright-line screening tools in the hiring process. What was the motivation for this letter to the EEOC and will it change any- thing? Regarding motivation, some of this has to be viewed through the red/ blue prism of politics. If you look at the states that sent the letter you will see mostly red. Another motivation is a couple of the states’ con- stituents. Big constituents. Big, big constituents. BMW is a major employer in South Carolina. Their plant in Spartanburg em- ploys over 8000 people. According to data from the U.S. Department of Com- merce, based on the 2011 value of BMW exports from South Carolina, the company’s Spartanburg facility is the largest auto- motive exporter from the U.S. (Speaking of seeing red, I wonder what General Patton would have to say about that were he still alive?) Regarding the other de- fendant, Dollar General is one of West Virginia’s largest private employers. Will their letter change anything? I doubt it. The EEOC has answered (fairly scathingly) some pro- business articles that at- tacked them for the new guidance. I do not see a sit- uation in which those at the EEOC in Washington sit down with some of these Attorneys General and work out a compromise or walk back what they have done. If it should happen, I don’t think it will be sub- stantially different— employers will need to as- sess job relatedness and business necessity and do some personal assessing. In the meantime, the guid- ance for employers is what the guidance is for employ- ers. And the EEOC is being aggressive. Aggressiveness doesn’t just mean going after the big companies. The EEOC has gone from less than 50 investigations in 2006 to nearly 600 in 2012. In 2012, the EEOC recovered $365.2 million in settlements. There were 99,412 cases filed with the EEOC in 2012. For every BMW or Dollar General you hear about, there’s a few hundred that you don’t hear about. Re- cently for example, J.B. Hunt transportation entered into a settlement with the EEOC over charges of ra- cial discrimination based on a criminal record back- ground check. The EEOC claimed that J.B. Hunt dis- criminated against an Afri- can-American job candi- date who was denied a truck driver position at a J.B. Hunt facility in San Bernardino in 2009. The agency claimed the compa- ny denied employment based on a criminal convic- tion record that was unre- lated to the duties of the job. The alleged victim has entered into a private settle- ment agreement with J.B. Hunt. In addition to the specific allegations in the San Bernardino incident, the EEOC investigated the company’s broad policies and warned against the use of blanket prohibitions that disqualify candidates with criminal records The only sure thing in life is change—but that could change. In regard to the re- cent EEOC Guidance it could change, but given the political climate and gen- eral warp speed of govern- ment action (yawn), I’m not holding my breath for changes soon as a result of the Attorneys General let- ter. Derek Hinton “In My Opinion” Dennis Brownstein addresses pre-employment
  12. 12. NZ Criminal Record May Soon Be A Click Away Finding out someone's NZ criminal history could soon be as easy as clicking a but- ton, under major changes to improve public access to court documents. Justice Minister Judith Collins told the Sunday Star-Times the current sys- tem, where people often have to apply in writing to the courts for access to in- formation, is "completely insane". She wants all decisions online once the courts have completed a move to an electronic operating model next year. The documents would effectively act as a public register of criminals and improve public safety, she said. It would also make the court process more open. "If a matter is heard in open court that anyone can attend, why is it the next day they strangely can't ac- cess that information? Peo- ple have a right to know about what goes on in their courts." Collins accepts some groups will "scream and cry" about the plan, but be- lieves there is overwhelm- ing public interest in mak- ing the information availa- ble. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said work on Collins' proposal had be- gun, but it was early days. "It is a complex piece of work and we are currently looking at what IT is need- ed to support it. We also need to develop a robust system to remove sup- pressed information from judgments before they are published." Court of Appeal and near- ly all Supreme Court and High Court decisions since 2005 are published online. The public can apply in writing to receive a copy of a District Court judgment. However, a lot of criminal decisions are recorded, but not transcribed unless they are needed for official pur- poses, largely because of a lack of resources. Collins has an ally in Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue who be- lieves it is important the public understand the rea- soning behind court deci- sions. "We welcome any devel- opment which would ena- ble the decisions of the Dis- trict Court to be available in a timely fashion," Doogue said. "This would enable trans- parency and accountabil- ity." Media Freedom commit- tee member Clive Lind said Collins' plan would be a great way of getting infor- mation about court pro- ceedings into the public do- main. "What we do at the moment doesn't make sense with today's technology." The Sensible Sentencing Trust is also excited about the changes, which it be- lieves are long overdue. It was often a battle for vic- tims to get hold of infor- mation, spokeswoman Ruth Money said. A sample criminal record report from New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand courthouse Photograph by Steven Brownstein
  13. 13. Northern Ireland Minister Asks Public To Be Alert When Applying For Criminal Record Checks Justice Minister David Ford has advised the public to exercise caution if of- fered discounted rates for criminal records checks and to be careful if employers are asking for payment in suspicious circumstances. The call follows reports from members of the public who have applied, and been asked to pay, for criminal record checks through job advertisements on websites which claim that they can provide such a service at a special discounted rate, the sites claim the rate has been agreed with AccessNI. Ac- cessNI does not offer dis- counted rates. The public can find out more information on the service AccessNI provides, including who requires a criminal record check and how much it costs at accessni. David Ford said: “My De- partment has received a small number of reports recently about members of the public being asked to apply for a basic criminal record check through a po- tential employer with the suggestion that these can be offered at discounted rates. I want to emphasise that discounted rates are not an option AccessNI offers for disclosures and urges cau- tion when being asked to forward payment in respect of internet job applications. The public should also seek to satisfy themselves about the legitimacy of the em- ployer if they have a suspi- cion. Notes: 1. This is a precautionary alert. 2. AccessNI is liaising with Trading Standards over a possible investiga- tion into posts advertised on linewhich said they re- quired an AccessNI basis criminal record check which could be provided at a discounted rate. Payment was requested. 3. Under the legislation (Section 112 of Part V of the Police Act 1997) any individual can apply for a criminal conviction certifi- cation (Basic Disclosure) providing they make an ap- plication and pay the agreed fee (£26). A Basic disclosure will show details of all convictions consid- ered to be unspent under the Rehabilitation of Of- fenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978, or state that no such convictions were found 4. AccessNI supplies criminal history infor- mation, upon request, to organisations and individu- als, primarily to help them make safer recruitment de- cisions. Some organisations are required by law to con- sider the suitability of ap- plicants for certain posi- tions or to ensure that they are not barred from work- ing with vulnerable groups. 5. A criminal history check, also known as a dis- closure, will search your details against United Kingdom criminal records and other police infor- mation and may disclose details of an applicant's criminal history. The checks could include a search of barred lists which are kept by the Westminster government. In Northern Ireland the checks are car- ried out by AccessNI. 6. The cost of checks is as follows: · £26 – basic or standard check · £30 – enhanced check · £150 - one off registration fee for organisations to use AccessNI services - this includes the processing of registered body details and checks on signatories · £10 - registration of each counter signatory · individuals meeting the AccessNI definition of a volunteer may be entitled to a free check.
  14. 14. No Reason To Limit App Ac- cess To Hong Kong Public Records by Alex Lo (Hong Kong) Privacy protection is a good thing, until it is not. When you have a busybody of a privacy commissioner ob- structing people's access to public information, it be- comes counterproductive. Commissioner Allan Chiang Yam-wang has ruled that a mobile app called Do No Evil breached data protection laws and ordered the firm that oper- ates it to halt a particularly popular service - an online search of public records like litigation and bankrupt- cy cases. If people cannot use the app, to do the searches, they can go to the judiciary, the Official Receiver's Of- fice and the Companies Registry to find the docu- ments, as they did in the past. They are all available for public inspection. As far as we know, and the commission has not disput- ed it, the company has only collected data from legal proceedings that are al- ready in public records. It has a database of more than two million such records. The firm has voluntarily complied with the commis- sion's order, as fighting it in court will be costly for such a small commercial entity, even if it has an excellent case to argue. Chiang thinks Do No Evil provides sensitive personal data - including the names of litigants, partial identity card numbers, addresses, claims amounts and compa- ny directors' data. So what? I can find all this data if I go to a government office - and not just in bankruptcy and litigation case files, but in vehicle registrations, land-title ownership and business registrations as well. Chiang claims it is a com- mon misconception that personal data collected from the public domain is open to unrestricted use. No use is unrestricted, but it's not clear Chiang has the competence or power to decide what amounts to le- gitimate use and how to restrict access to data being used. It is certainly not in his power or mandate to decide the manner in which they can be accessed - whether physically through a public office or a mobile app. Chiang is fond of saying that the use of personal data for anything other than the original purpose should be restricted unless voluntary consent of the subject is obtained. It makes sense to restrict how companies and gov- ernment departments use clients' data they collect; it makes no sense in the case of public records. HK Privacy Commissioner Fears Change, Says Activist Corporate crusader says the Do No Evil app was only providing what is already public and 'Luddite' com- missioner should be re- placed A prominent corporate gov- ernance activist has lashed out at the privacy watchdog for failing to acknowledge the need for easier access to information. And David Webb says its commissioner, Allan Chiang Yam-wang, should be "replaced with someone who understands modern technology" better. "Frankly, I think Mr Chiang is a technophobic Luddite and needs to be replaced by someone who won't keep attacking ser- vices that provide public access to data that is al- ready public," said Webb. He was responding to a move by the privacy watch- dog to bar a company from supplying data on individu- als - gleaned from publicly available litigation and bankruptcy records - via a smartphone application. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data yesterday said it had ordered the operator of mo- bile app Do No Evil to cease supplying "sensitive" data after it was found to have invaded personal data privacy by allowing users to search for individuals by name. Webb said the watchdog's report contained several inconsistencies. "[Chiang's] position is inconsistent. He says it is OK for corporate services to do it for other corporations, but it is not OK for a business to pro- vide this service to a con- sumer … tenants and land- lords may want to look up whether either have been sued in the past and small businesses may want to conduct due diligence," Webb said. "But any information that has gone through the courts is in the public domain so I don't see why they're forc- ing people to go down the corporate route." Webb criticised the report's premise that people with similar names could be mistaken during a search, saying unique identifiers such as partial identifica- tion numbers, which are also public, would help to avoid mix-ups. "The commissioner should explain why a company can provide [background search] services through web platforms and not mo- bile apps," he said. Webb was forced by the watchdog earlier this year to withdraw a short-lived database listing the identity card numbers of 1,100 company directors includ- ing tycoons Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Li Ka- shing. In both cases, the watchdog argues that misuse of per- sonal data from public reg- istries that is not directly related to the original pur- pose could constitute a breach of the privacy law. Webb's push for the free flow of information was echoed by Alex Kong, of IT company Sino Dynamic Solutions, which developed the Do No Evil app. "We call the app Do No Evil to convey this message: easy public access to criminal records would help deter crime," he said. The company argues that the data, which is all ob- tained from public records provided by the govern- ment, is for employers to conduct background searches and due diligence on potential employees. Kong gave the example of schools being required to check whether teachers had committed sex crimes. A team of nine people had worked on the app for 18 months, he said. "A compa- ny once offered to buy the rights to the app for HK$600,000, but we re- fused the offer due to the long-term potential of the app. Now everything has been in vain," Kong said. The firm has also scrapped plans to develop apps facil- itating company and land searches. The right of individuals to privacy is not absolute, the privacy commissioner said on Tuesday. It must be bal- anced against other rights and the public interest, he said. Exemptions from the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance include the use of personal data to prevent or detect crime or dishones- ty, and for reporting pur- poses where information published is in the public interest. He said the Do No Evil app "seriously invaded" privacy and the exemptions did not
  15. 15. Scammers Promise A Clear Criminal Record A recent string of scam calls promises Spokane County residents that a clean criminal record is just a phone call away. Over the past several months, citizens have re- ceived calls from scammers claiming to be from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office saying there’s a war- rant out for their arrest and that whoever they’re living with may be charged for harboring a wanted person, according to a Sheriff’s Of- fice news release. The call- er says that if they pay a fee their record will be cleared. When the scammers call, caller identification will display the sheriff’s office administration number. The Federal Communications Commission has released a guide to this scam method, known as “spoofing.” The Sheriff’s Office never tells people they can pay their way out of a warrant, Deputy Craig Chamberlin said. “We either go find them, or when we contact them and find out they have (a warrant),” Chamberlin said, “that’s when we take them to jail.”
  16. 16. Jobless Blacks Should Cheer Background Checks by Jason Riley The Obama administration took one on the chin earlier this month when a federal court ruled that companies may use criminal- background checks in hir- ing without being guilty of racial discrimination. Em- ployers are thrilled about the decision, obviously. Less obvious is that the black unemployed, whose numbers have swelled un- der President Obama, also have reason to cheer. The case dates to 2009, when the Equal Employ- ment Opportunity Commis- sion sued Freeman Co., an event management firm. The EEOC alleged that the company's criminal- background checks for job applicants discriminated against blacks, who in gen- eral are more likely than other groups to have crimi- nal histories. Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court in Mar- yland disagreed. In his Aug. 9 ruling, he said that checking a person's crimi- nal history is "a legitimate component of a reasonable hiring process." Employers "have a clear incentive to avoid hiring employees who have a proven tenden- cy to defraud or steal from their employers, engage in workplace violence, or who otherwise appear to be un- trustworthy and unreliable." The meat of the ruling, however, is the court's blis- tering takedown of the gov- ernment's "expert" report, authored by an outside stat- istician who attempted to establish that Freeman's criminal-background checks disproportionately harmed black job-seekers. Judge Titus described the report as "an egregious ex- ample of scientific dishon- esty," its analysis "laughable," "skewed" and full of "cherry-picked da- ta." He concluded that the "mind-boggling-number of errors" rendered the EEOC's "disparate impact conclusions worthless." There are "simply no facts here to support a theory of disparate impact resulting from any identified, specif- ic practice." It's bad enough that the Obama administration is using dodgy numbers to bring bogus racial discrimi- nation cases. But the whole premise of the EEOC's campaign against criminal- background checks may be off-base if the goal is to increase job opportunities for minorities, ex-offenders or anyone with a spotty work history. On the contrary, an Octo- ber 2006 study in the Jour- nal of Law and Economics, "Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks, and the Racial Hir- ing Practices of Employ- ers," found that "employers that check criminal back- grounds are in general more likely to hire African Americans," according to Harry Holzer of Georgetown University and his two co-authors. "[T]he ad- verse consequence of em- ployer-initiated background checks on the likelihood of hiring African Americans is more than offset by the positive effect of eliminat- ing statistical discrimina- tion." These researchers surmise that employers who can screen for prison records are less likely to rely on prejudice when hir- ing. Blacks aren't the only ben- eficiaries. Analyzing "employer willingness to hire other stigmatized groups of workers (such as workers with gaps in their employment history)," they found the same pattern. The results, they wrote, "suggest that in the absence of background checks, em- ployers use race, gaps in employment history, and other perceived correlates of criminal activity to as- sess the likelihood of an applicant's previous felony convictions and factor such assessments into the hiring decision." "The Effect of Criminal Background Checks on Hiring Ex-Offenders," pub- lished in the August 2008 issue of Criminology and Public Policy, also suggests that the EEOC's effort to keep criminal history ques- tions off job applications— sometimes called "banning the box"—could have unin- tended consequences. "It is not clear that the basic as- sumption of the "Ban the Box" movement—that in- formation about criminal history eliminates people from the queue—is cor- rect," wrote UCLA's Mi- chael Stoll and Shawn Bushway of SUNY Albany. The authors found evidence "consistent with the idea that some firms check to gain information and not necessarily to exclude alto- gether the hiring of ex- offenders." Thus "initiatives aimed at re- stricting background checks for those firms not legally required to check may not have the desired effect of increasing ex-offender em- ployment." Alas, the Obama admin- istration doesn't seem much interested in the research showing that employers who perform criminal back- ground checks are more likely to hire black appli- cants than employers who do not. The EEOC hasn't ruled out an appeal of the Freeman decision, and it is moving ahead with similar lawsuits filed in June against retailer Dollar Gen- eral and a U.S. subsidiary of car maker BMW. September 2013
  17. 17. One In Three Scottish Men 'Likely To Have A Criminal Record' More than a third of men and almost one in ten wom- en in Scotland are likely to have at least one criminal conviction, according to a new report. The figures were revealed in a research paper examin- ing changes to the law gov- erning when criminal con- victions are considered spent. In was produced in re- sponse to a Scottish Gov- ernment consultation on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) to be launched this summer. The act has been criticised for not achieving the right balance between protecting the public and allowing people to put their previous offending behaviour behind them and get back into em- ployment. Concerns have been raised that rehabilitation periods set out in law are too long and offenders face stigma while waiting for a criminal record to expire. A significant portion of the population faces regular criminal record checks, re- searchers from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Jus- tice Research (SCCJR) found. Scottish Government anal- ysis of data from the Scot- tish Offenders Index showed that more than a third (38%) of men and al- most one in ten (nine per- cent) of women born in 1973 are known to have at least one criminal convic- tion, the report says. "Extrapolating to the pop- ulation as a whole, at least one-third of the adult male population and nearly one in ten of the adult female population is likely to have a criminal record," it said. Disclosure Scotland pro- cesses more than one mil- lion applications for basic disclosure of criminal con- victions every year, the re- search found. Authors Paul McGuin- ness, Fergus McNeill and Sarah Armstrong, from the University of Glasgow, suggest possible reforms to the system including modi- fication of the waiting peri- ods for convictions to be- come spent and issuing ex- offenders with a certificate of rehabilitation. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We are planning to issue a dis- cussion paper on how the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 might be modern- ised shortly. "We do not hold a fixed view about how the regime might be modernised and reformed and this paper is designed to provide all those with potential interest the chance to influence how specific proposals for mod- ernisation and reform might be developed. "The Rehabilitation of Of- fenders Act 1974 has been on the statue books for nearly 40 years and it is important to ensure the leg- islation still operates in line with its original purposes of balancing the need to pro- tect the public whilst allow- ing ex-offenders to be reha- bilitated from their previ- ous offending behaviour." U.S. Prison Population Declined For Third Consecutive Year During 2012 The U.S. prison popula- tion declined 1.7 percent from 2011 to 2012, falling to an estimated 1,571,013 prisoners, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Sta- tistics. It was the third consecu- tive year of a decline in the number of state prisoners. Nine states had a decrease of more than 1,000 prison- ers in 2012: California, Texas, North Carolina, Col- orado, Arkansas, New York, Florida, Virginia and Maryland. New Hampshire’s Court System Moving Online As early as November, people who file small claims lawsuits in Concord and Plymouth will have to do so on the Internet. The electronic filing re- quirement is part of a pilot program the state’s judicial branch is launching in ad- vance of rolling out a $7.25 million online version of the state court system. The e-court project began in 2011 and should be fully functional in 2016, allow- ing attorneys, litigants and residents to file lawsuits, pay fines and access court documents from their living room.
  18. 18. Rockdale, GA Goes Online (Well, sort of) The Rockdale County Su- perior Clerk’s Office re- cently unveiled an online system that permits attor- neys to access court records and calendars without hav- ing to go to the courthouse. Superior Court Clerk Ruth Wilson announced the launch of the Attorney Re- mote Access Service. Every attorney of record with cas- es before the Rockdale Su- perior and State courts will be able remotely access and print documents and calen- dars by registering for the service through the Clerk’s Office website,, and clicking on the “Online Services” tab. Specifically, Wilson said that records associated with cases and court calendars in the county’s Superior, State, Magistrate and Pro- bate courts are available through the system. Cur- rently non-judicial and land records are not available, but should be in the near future, she said. “This is something attor- neys have been requesting for years,” Wilson stated in a press release announcing the Remote Access Service. “We are pleased to finally to be able to respond to their requests.” Wilson said she expects the new online system, which is similar to other remote access systems for court records in other juris- dictions, will eventually reduce the amount of traffic in the Clerk’s Office. “By providing this remote access, we reduce the num- ber of calls, visits and emails we need to handle,” she stated in the release. “That enables us to make better use of our limited resources while keeping our headcount low.” Wilson said in a written reponse to questions from the Citizen on Monday that the cost for implementing the Remote Access Service was approximately $8,000. While it’s new, some local attorneys are optimistic about the Remote Access Service. On a flyer distributed by the Clerk’s Office about the new service, David Wood, managing partner with Wood & Wood LLP, of- fered this testimonial: “Like it. Appreciate it. Love it. Really do. Great addition.” Laura French of the French Law Group LLC said she hasn’t had a chance to use the new sys- tem, but thinks it will be a benefit. Anything that allows at- torneys to more efficiently serve our clients and inter- act with the court at the same time is nothing but positive,” she said. “I be- lieve this will really save attorneys, and therefore our clients, time and money.” Nose Spray Narcan Reverses Overdoses In Mass. Town At High Rate The police department in Quincy, Mass., is requiring officers to carry a nasal spray that reverses overdos- es from opioids, which are heroin and painkiller drugs derived from opium. Narcan (naloxone hydro- chloride) has been available in injection form to para- medics and hospital emer- gency room doctors for many years, and has also become available in a nasal spray. Quincy is the first police department in the United States to require officers on patrol to carry nasal Nar- can, which reverses an overdose by blocking the narcotic’s ability to attach to brain cells. About 200 Quincy offic- ers have been trained to use the antidote and two doses are carried in every police cruiser. Since the pilot program began in 2010, Quincy po- lice have applied Narcan 179 times and reversed overdoses 170 times. Saline, AR Goes Online Carrie Marrow of Garland County spends a lot of time online. She isn’t freshening her Facebook page; she is searching out the history of real estate for a title compa- ny. Recently, Marrow was at the Saline County Court- house, but she could just have easily been working at home. “I’m having to go back 30 years, and with some prop- erties, those records are not all online yet,” she said. “But I do a lot of this work at home, now that Saline County has gone online.” She said the title company requires her to check coun- ty records of a property for the past 10 years. “We look to see if there are any liens or judgements against the property, and that all the mortgages are paid,” Marrow said. “We want to make sure the buy- ers have a clean title on the property.” Saline County residents, title companies like the one in Little Rock that employs Marrow or anyone with a computer can access a storehouse of official rec- ords from their computers with a new One-Stop-Shop page that went online Aug. 8. Six elected Saline County officials announced the launching of the new Inter- net site,, which gives free, open ac- cess to the county’s public records. Crazy Lawsuit Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.
  19. 19. Guarding Against Abuse Of Personal Data In The Public Domain (Hong Kong) by Allan Chiang, HK privacy com- missioner Many people believe per- sonal data collected from the public domain - such as the companies, land and vehicles registers, the gov- ernment gazette, and even the internet - is open to unrestricted use. This view is incorrect. Personal data, whether publicly available or not, is protected under the Person- al Data (Privacy) Ordi- nance. Imagine the conse- quences if the opposite were true. Data users may get around the law by de- liberately publicising the data in the public domain, and the improper use of personal data that was leaked to the public domain would be legitimised. Technology has exacer- bated the risks of a loss of privacy. Advances in the aggregation, matching and further processing of per- sonal data in the public do- main means such data min- ing is now conducted with phenomenal ease and effi- ciency. For those who know how, it is easy to pro- file an individual and gen- erate new uses of the data beyond the purposes for which they were initially collected. Admittedly, such profiling could generate economic and societal benefits. But at the same time, it poses grave privacy risks. One example of these risks is the use of personal data to market goods and services. In a report last year, the US retail giant Target was found to have analysed the purchasing habits of its customers so closely that it was able to guess reliably whether a female customer was preg- nant and by how many months. In one case, the father of a teenage girl found out that she was three months pregnant after his suspicions were raised due to the increased amount of pregnancy-related ad- verts from Target arriving in the mail. The fact Target had "data-mined" its way into a customer's womb is clearly intrusive. It is conceivable that many marketers are using innovative analytics to en- hance marketing effective- ness based on data supplied by the customer and data in the public domain. The problem is not so much re- lated to the nature and source of the data but, ra- ther, to the way the data is combined, further pro- cessed and used. Another example is the compilation of bankruptcy and litigation records of individuals by data brokers, based on the judiciary's dai- ly cause lists and cause books as well as the bank- ruptcy order notices in the government gazette. This is the subject of our recent investigation into a smartphone application which enabled subscribers to search such records by name and view the com- bined data in one go. The data subjects concerned could be harmed unknow- ingly if the data is used, for example, for checking their employability or creditwor- thiness. First, as different people can share the same name or have similar names, it is problematic to ascribe the data to a target individual according to his name. Sec- ond, a person involved in litigation could be perfectly innocent but the database did not as a rule include the court's decision in his fa- vour. Third, bankruptcy is nor- mally discharged after four to eight years, while the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance prevents unau- thorised disclosure of a pre- vious minor conviction, provided the offender has not been reconvicted for three years. Therefore, the indefinite retention and use of the bankruptcy and litigation data would unduly stigma- tise an individual and bar him or her from leading a life free from encumbranc- es. A further example is the unfettered access to the companies, land and vehi- cles registers, as well as other public information sources, thus putting at risk the sensitive data therein, such as Hong Kong identity card numbers, full residen- tial addresses and signa- tures. If malicious people were to exploit the data, there would be a risk of fi- nancial loss, identity theft and personal safety (through stalking and sur- veillance). For this reason, we recent- ly secured the co-operation of a website operator to cease operating an index whereby names of individ- uals and their identity card numbers found in the pub- lic domain were listed to- gether to enable a search by either name or number. Such aggregation and pro- cessing of sensitive person- al data were clearly inap- propriate. This website operation must be distinguished from that of a search engine, which acts purely as an in- termediary in providing content data. Without per- forming value-added opera- tions on the personal data it processes, aggravation of privacy risks does not come into question. A use-limitation principle in the ordinance provides that personal data should be used only for the purposes for which it was collected or a directly related pur- pose, unless exempted for activities such as law en- forcement, professional due diligence, and publishing or broadcasting of the data as news and in the public in- terest. The application of this principle depends on the original purpose of collect- ing and making public the data in question. In the case of public registers, they are normally set up by statutes. Ideally, the purpose of a public register should be stated as specifically as practicable in the enabling legislation. If not, it could be implied. Very often, the purpose and limitations of use of information in the public domain have been spelled out. Having ascertained the original purpose of making the personal data publicly available, the question of whether the reuse of such data is for the same purpose or a directly related purpose can be assessed on a case- by-case basis. We need to explore the specific context in which the data was collected and the reasonable expectations of the data subjects as to the further use made of the data based on that context. The test here is whether a reasonable person in the data subject's situation would find the reuse of the data unexpected, inappro- priate or otherwise objec- tionable. The Truth About Hong Kong Record Searches By Faheem Ebrahim If anyone tells you that searches in Hong Kong cannot be done, I urge you to check again. It’s an accommodating, open system, and with the right explanation of your intentions, the team at the district court will happily assist with your needs. Allan Chiang Yam-wang, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data
  20. 20. Adultery Website To Launch In Hong Kong “Life is short. Have an affair,” proclaims contro- versial dating website Ash- ley Madison. Married peo- ple sign up to meet each other for affairs and “discreet encounters” through the website, which with 20 million members says it is the world’s largest dating platform for cheat- ing husbands and wives. The dating agency launch- es in Hong Kong at the end of the month, and is ex- pected to be greeted with howls of protest from church leaders, family groups and moral guardi- ans. Hong Kong’s politi- cians are unlikely to jump into the fray, unless they are themselves squeaky clean and monogamous. Not surprisingly, the web- site has already sparked a media furore throughout America and Europe, with coverage on CNN and Fox News and in print media such as Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Ashley Madison says it tries to make women feel comfortable about having affairs. They even aim for the moral high ground, claiming most online dating sites use half-naked women to lure new users, while they portray a “girls’ night out feeling” to attract mar- ried women. To make af- fairs more attractive to women, founder and CEO Noel Biderman, who styles himself “The King of Infi- delity,” says he named the website using the two most popular female baby names in 2002. He says the web- site is upfront about its pur- pose: connecting married people who want to stray with no strings attached, and with no “sloppy end- ings.” Before setting up Ashley Madison in 2002, Biderman worked as a sports agent who discovered he had a talent for helping profes- sional athletes juggle their wives and mistresses, real- ising that marital deceit was rife. After finding that 30 per cent of online dating members were already mar- ried, he saw a business op- portunity of offering inter- net dating for cheats. Based in Canada, the site has ex- panded to 28 other coun- tries, recently finding fertile ground in Japan with a mil- lion sign-ups in the first two months. Biderman has done his homework, citing the 2011 census which said there were 20,000 divorces filed that year – a divorce rate 10 times higher than it was 30 years ago. Currently, the local ratio of men to wom- en aged between 25 and 54 is 88-100, providing male Hong Kong members with a larger pool of women to cheat with. However, being a female-centred website, Ashley Madison claims it can provide Hong Kong women with a platform to pursue their own extra- marital affairs. Let’s hope they don’t meet their own husband on the site. Whistling Loudly Close To A Person Is Form Of Assault In Hong Kong Whistling loudly at police officers is a form of assault because it involves the im- pact of sound energy, the Eastern Court was told. Prosecutor Jonathan Man Tak-ho said whistling con- stituted assault even if there was no physical contact because people should be protected from any form of physical molestation. Man was speaking during the trial of construction worker Ki Chun-kei, 50, who has pleaded not guilty to five charges of assaulting five auxiliary police offic- ers by whistling at them through his fingers during the annual July 1 protest march this year. Man referred to a 2003 precedent in which protest- er Sunny Leung Chun-wai was found guilty of assault and jailed for two months for shouting through a loudhailer into a police of- ficer's ears. Sound can become an un- lawful use of force if it is used intentionally or reck- lessly without the implied consent of victims, Man said. "No matter [whether] it is a loudhailer, a whistle or a human vocal cord, it can emit sound energy, and under some circumstances constitutes assault." Such whistling is different from normal, everyday whistling, he said. "[Ki] used great force and high frequency. He leaned forward and whistled at close range." This was an exception to the concept of implied con- sent, whereby people com- mit no crime if they acci- dently touch others in a busy place, he said. The alleged victims gave evidence, saying the whis- tling was sharp and loud, and that Ki had targeted them. Ki said he had not planned to join the protest march. He simply followed the crowd when the road in front of Sogo department store, which he wanted to cross, was closed. He de- nied being drunk at the time. Man asked the court not to give any weight to Ki's claim that he was not aware the police officers were around. Man said evidence showed that the officers were wearing uniforms, Ki had eye contact with the officers and had whistled close to them. He pointed out that one officer said the whistling caused a ringing in his ear, leaving him unable to hear clearly for two to three sec- onds. Another officer called the sound deafening. Lawyer Pauline Leung Po -lam, for Ki, said whistling itself was not a crime. "It was not a hostile attack … He might have been affect- ed by the heightened mood of other marchers," she said. While the court heard Ki had whistled about 45cm to 60cm from the officers, Leung said the distance was not "too close". Ki Chun-kei
  21. 21. Sales Clerk Fired For Sharing A Picture of His Paycheck On Instagram Social media have opened all sorts of avenues for get- ting in trouble at work, from oversharing work- place gossip on Twitter to old Facebook photos show- ing bosses parts of your past not covered on your resume. But here’s a rela- tively new one: Showing the world what your paycheck looks like. That’s what Wade Groom, a sales clerk at fashion house Lacoste’s main store in Manhattan, did, earning a swift trip to the unem- ployment office. Groom snapped an image of his paycheck a few weeks ago and posted it to Instagram with the mes- sage: “Ever since I was a kid I’ve thought it was completely insane that we have to work all our lives. I still feel that way. Especial- ly when it’s only enough to live in a third world apart- ment…” After a few weeks of bumping around the medi- asphere, the image eventu- ally became know to La- coste managers, who told Groom that the posting vio- lated the confidentiality agreement he signed before going to work for Lacoste. And don’t let the door whap your butt on the way out. Groom told Gothamist that he really didn’t intend to complain about his sala- ry — $15/hour, plus a 3% commission on record sales numbers — as much as make a philosophical state- ment about the old grind. And he sure didn’t expect it to go semi-viral. “I as- sumed that people would understand that I’m just expressing my frustration through my private Insta- gram account,” he told the blog. “Had I know it would have gotten out like this, I never would have done it. ” Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Against “Voyeur” Photog This just in: photo- graphing people in their homes through their win- dows with a telephoto lens is protected by the First Amendment. A judge has dismissed the lawsuit against Arne Svenson, the photographer who snapped pictures of the residents of an upscale NYC apartment building without their knowing. “An artist may create and sell a work of art that re- sembles an individual with- out his or her written con- sent,” Judge Eileen Rakow- er writes in her decision. Photographer Arne Sven- son lives on the second floor of an apartment build- ing in the Tribeca neighbor- hood of New York City. For his project “The Neigh- bors,” he pointed his cam- era at a luxury apartment building across the street and secretly photographed its inhabitants through open windows. Those photographs are now being sold for thou- sands of dollars at a gallery in NYC, but it turns out the subjects aren’t very happy with having their images stealthily snapped and sold. The New York Post re- ports that a number of the residents are “furious” over Svenson’s new photo ex- hibit at the Julie Saul Gal- lery, and the fact that the images show private mo- ments that include cleaning (while bent over), taking naps, and kids resting with teddy bears: Clifford Finn, one of the residents of the luxury apartment (where penthouses cost upwards of $6 million), is quoted by the paper as saying, “A grown man should not be able to photograph kids in their rooms with a telepho- to lens. You can argue ar- tistic license all you want, but that’s really the issue here. I’m sorry, but I’m re- ally bothered by this.” Other residents in the building are considering legal action against the photographer. In a statement for the pro- ject, the 60-year-old Sven- son says his work is similar to birdwatching: "For my subjects there is no question of privacy; they are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high. The Neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs. I am not unlike the birder, quietly waiting for hours, watching for the flutter of a hand or the movement of a curtain as an indication that there is life within."
  22. 22. Thai Villagers Arrest A Google Street View Driver, Thought He Was A Spy Photog On your own mental list of “most perilous jobs,” chances are Google Street View driver doesn’t make it very close to the top. But one of Google’s own wound up in a strange situ- ation recently when a group of villagers in Thailand put him under citizen’s arrest, believing him to be a spy for a government dam pro- ject they oppose. The incident took place in the Song district of Thai- land in the village of Ban Sa-iap when about 20 con- cerned villagers blocked Google employee Deeprom Phongphon’s way and placed him under citizen’s arrest. The villagers there have long opposed a dam project, and thought that he was taking spy photos for the project using the con- venient disguise of a Google Street View car. According to The Guardi- an, the villagers took the driver to a local office to quiz him, after which they took him to a temple where he was asked to swear on a statue of Buddha that he wasn’t working for the dam project. Since the incident took place, the village has re- leased a statement apolo- gizing to the employee, Google and the people of Thailand for the embarrass- ing mistake, explaining that many repeated cases had “convinced the villagers to believe someone was trying to survey the area in dis- guise.” For its part, Google didn’t see the incident as a very big deal. In a statement re- leased by Google spokes- man Taj Meadows, the company explained that when “embarking on new projects, we sometimes en- counter unexpected chal- lenges, and Street View has been no exception.” New Michigan Law Makes Shoplifting A Crime That Results In Prison Time In Michigan, the newly passed Organized Retail Crime Act, sponsored by Genesee County State Rep. Joseph Graves, has moved shoplifting from being con- sidered a misdemeanor to being seen as a felony, that would be punishable by up to five years in prison. In particular, the law tar- gets those who steal goods with the express intent of reselling them. According to Grandville Police Department Sgt. De- tective Renee Veldman, the statute has been a welcome addition to the tools used by law enforcement. The Michigan Retailers As- sociation spearheaded get- ting the law passed in 2012 in order to fill a gap that existed between the petty thefts of single items and the more sophisticated criminals who are looking to make a profit, according to William Hallan, vice president for governmental affairs and general counsel. Hallan, is on the Organized Retail Crime Advisory Board, which has been tasked by Gov. Rick Snyder to monitor the ef- fectiveness of the new law over time. He warned that organized criminals often become more aggressive and would be even more willing to turn to violence Top Global Risks Underscore Business Concerns Two separate studies from Accenture and Aon Risk Solutions have found that organizational risk manag- ers worldwide are closely aligned when it comes to risks they are most con- cerned about. According to the prelimi- nary results of Accenture's Global Risk Management Research study, which asked executives from 446 organizations across eight industries what they see as the biggest external risks over the next two years, 62 percent cited legal risks, followed by business risks - - 52 percent -- and regula- tory requirements -- 49 per- cent. Meanwhile, Aon's Global Risk Management Survey of 1,415 respondents from 70 nations and a wide range of industry sectors found economic slowdown and slow recovery to be the top concern. Regulatory/ legislative changes was second highest, followed by increasing competition. Robin's Rumination By Robin Watkins Have you ever googled "health tips"? If not, I can tell you that the search identifies over 759,000,000 sites. Unfortunately, searching healthy lifestyle infor- mation will not make you healthier. Who knows how many of those sites have bogus in- formation? Searching for "in-court research" (over 490,000,000 results) pre- sents a similar problem. How do you know who to trust with your applicants' personal information? Robin Watkins is Director of Client Services at Coun- ty House Research.
  23. 23. Florida Sheriff's Office Uses Appliance To Better Search Databases For Crime Information The Orange County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office is five months into a unique pro- ject using the Google Search Appliance to locate and extract criminal justice information from three dif- ferent internal databases, including the agency’s data warehouse. Sheriff’s Office officials say they may be the first law enforcement agency to use the Google search hard- ware this way. The tool is being used primarily to search relational databases, but it also can crawl most standard file systems and social media feeds. For ex- ample, the Sheriff’s Office has tested it successfully with Twitter and RSS feeds. Hal Trask, the Sheriff’s IT solutions delivery manager, and Sheena Lovette, a crime analysis supervisor, discussed the deployment in an email interview with Government Technology. They said several multi- database searches conduct- ed with the search appli- ance have resulted in the location or arrest of sus- pects. An armed robbery suspect was located and arrested. A homicide sus- pect was located and ques- tioned for a neighboring police department. And a search query for “kegs” re- sulted in the identification and arrest of three suspects — a search that helped solve seven to 10 cases of theft and resale of beer kegs. Although the technology is only being used to search Orange County Sheriff’s data, the office intends to expand the searches. “The next step in our initiative will be to begin working on arrangements with various local agencies in order to begin sharing data via [the search appliance],” wrote Trask and Lovette. The system’s Web-based user interface has been dubbed CRAIG, for Crimi- nal Research and Investiga- tive Gathering application. The Google Search Appli- ance hardware sits on the Sheriff’s network. CRAIG currently works with inter- nal databases within the sheriff’s Tiburon records management system, in- cluding the Automated Re- porting System, Crime Analysis and Calls for Ser- vice. The Sheriff’s Office antic- ipates no technical difficul- ty in expanding the search capability to other jurisdic- tions. “The only issue that we may run across is map- ping each agency’s data elements to one common format,” said a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. “The [search appliance] suppos- edly does have built-in functionality that should provide the ability to do this. We just haven’t gotten to that phase yet.” Data shared between law enforcement agencies would be transferred using CJNET, a secure private network provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Sheriff’s Office tech- nical team created the new system quickly, said Trask and Lovette. “Our program- mers were able to produce a useful working prototype of CRAIG in approximate- ly 30 days without ever having been exposed to the Google technology API. The learning curve was fairly minimal.” However, they added, the project will need to contin- ually adapt to changes in technology, system availa- bility, the evolution of crime patterns, human in- teraction and even linguis- tic changes. “As we move forward toward a more fed- erated search, searching across other agencies, it will be interesting to see if the challenges are more technical related or people related.” What Is A Search Appliance? A search appliance is usu- ally made up of several components. These include a gathering component, a standardizing component, a data storage area, a search component, a user interface component, and a manage- ment interface component: [3] The gathering component is usually a web crawler or file crawler that goes out on a network or the Internet and gathers files and data from specified locations. This might include SMB shared directories, NFS shared directories, data- bases, and web pages. The crawler might either copy files to the search appli- ance, or only copy the metadata about the file. A standardizing compo- nent takes the data from the gathering component and transposes it into a stand- ardized format for storage in the data storage compo- nent. It then places it in the data storage area. The data storage compo- nent holds metadata about the files and might also contain copies of the actual file or data as well as the metadata about the file. The search component searches through the stored metadata from the files and provides the information to the search interface in the form of query results. It also can provide links to the copies of the files stored on the search appli- ance, or it can provide links to the original files in the source locations. The search interface is the component where users compose their search que- ries. It provides instructions to the search component and displays query results to the user. The management interface lets administrators manage user accounts, permissions, adding and deleting search indexes, crawl job schedul- ing, and other relevant functions.
  24. 24. What Keeps CEOs Up At Night? The Lloyd’s Risk Index provides a good view of global risk from the per- spective of corporate lead- ers. This year’s worldwide survey comprised 588 C- Suite and board level exec- utives from companies of various sizes. The survey asked about 50 risks across five categories: business and strategic risk; economic, regulatory, and market risk; political, crime, and security risk; environmental and health risk; and natural hazard risks. Specifically, the survey asked respondents, "How prepared are you to manage these risks?" and then in- structed them to prioritize the risks. When asked the question "Are you better prepared to manage business risks than two years ago?," just 45 percent of respondents said their organization is more prepared now than in 2011, whereas 70 percent of re- spondents in 2011 indicated they were more prepared than in 2009. The survey also identified "a clear divide" of risk management between larg- er and smaller enterprises, as well as enterprises that operate in established ver- sus emerging economies. Additionally, larger com- panies in faster growing markets are identifying the increased need to prioritize business risks and their rel- ative lack of preparedness to deal with them. Larger companies are in- vesting in more compre- hensive risk transfer (insurance) and risk man- agement (mitigation) measures. Notably, cyber crime is an increasingly serious con- cern, as are regulatory mat- ters. Eight Warning Signs That Employers Should Reconsider Their Background Screening Providers By Tom Ahearn Since background checks are a crucial part of the hir- ing process in today’s busi- ness world, leading payroll and HR solutions provider Paycor® has teamed up with Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), for the whitepaper ‘8 Warning Signs You Should Recon- sider Your Background Screening Provider.’ The link to download the complimentary whitepaper is available on the Paycor website at http:// download-background- screening-whitepaper. In the whitepaper, Rosen – author of ‘The Safe Hir- ing Manual,’ the first com- prehensive guide to em- ployment screening – em- phasizes how background checks conducted on poten- tial new hires need to be done legally and accurately by professional and accred- ited screening firms and not “data-vendors” that create more problems for employ- ers than they solve. The whitepaper covers these eight warning signs that indicate an employer should take a closer look at their background screening provider: 1. DOES THE BACK- GROUND SCREENING FIRM PROMOTE “INSTANT BACK- GROUND CHECKS”? 2. DO THEY CLAIM TO HAVE A BETTER DATA- BASE? 3. DO THEY CLAIM DI- RECT CONNECTIONS WITH NUMEROUS COUNTY COURTS? 4. DO THEY USE “OFFSHORE” FACILI- TIES/WORKERS? 5. HAVE THEY BEEN ACCREDITED BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIA- TION OF PROFESSION- AL BACKGROUND SCREENERS (NAPBS®)? 6. DO THEY USE HOME- BASED OPERATORS? 7. DO THEY FAIL TO PROVIDE CLIENTS REGULAR UPDATES ON LEGAL CHANGES? 8. HAVE THEY FAILED TO MENTION THE UP- DATED U.S. EQUAL EM- PLOYMENT OPPOR- TUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC) GUIDANCE ON USING CRIMINAL REC- ORDS DURING HIRING? Still Multitasking? Give It A Rest! by Jay Eidelman If you are one of the many people who thinks that mul- titasking is the way to get things done, you are mis- taken. At least that's the point of a recent piece by Forbes contributor Douglas Mer- rill. Noting the cost (think tex- ting and driving) and ineffi- ciency of multitasking, Merrill points to biology as the limiting factor. Human brains can only keep about 7 things in short term memory at any one time. And if something doesn't go into short-term memory, it doesn't get into long-term memory. Think that young people are better at multitasking than their elders? Nope, that's also a myth - at least according to Mer- rill. The best course is to focus on one task exclusively, taking it to completion or to a point where it can be paused, and then moving on to the next. Small Town Takes Unique Approach To Fighting Shoplifting Police in Rosenberg, Tex- as, are taking an unusual approach to addressing the recent increase in shoplift- ing in the town. Part of that approach in- volves posting the names of shoplifters on the police force's Facebook page. In addition, anyone caught shoplifting in the town is arrested instead of simply being issued a citation. This new proactive ap- proach was chosen in re- sponse to a 55 percent in- crease in the number of shoplifting cases in July alone. The police force attributes the increase in shoplifting to the large number of re- tailers in the area. Police also say that it is more effective to take a proactive approach to deal- ing with shoplifting rather than simply responding to shoplifting cases after they have taken place. India's Rape Records India's crime records have revealed that the country's commercial capi- tal, Mumbai witnessed 647 rape and 1,877 molestation cases in the last three years. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 1,781 incidents of crime against women in Mumbai in 2012 which in- clude 234 rapes, 614 inci- dents of assault on women with the intent to outrage her modesty and 235 inci- dents of insult to the mod- esty of women.
  25. 25. How Stop And Frisk Works In Chicago by Mick Dumke About quarter to eight on the evening of May 21, 2011, two Chicago police officers noticed a young black man they deemed suspicious near the corner of Iowa and Pulaski. The problem, as they saw it, was that he didn't seem to be doing anything. The officers were part of a unit that roamed high-crime sections of the city, looking for signs of trouble before it boiled over into vio- lence—as it often did in that part of West Humboldt Park, which had been used as an open-air drug market for a generation. In their view, the skinny kid in the white T-shirt was "loitering in a high narcotics area known for narcotic sales," as they later wrote in their arrest report. They decided to approach him "to con- duct a field interview." The question of when po- lice are allowed to formally stop and interview citizens was the central issue in the recent stop-and-frisk ruling in New York. After New York City's practices were found to be unconstitution- ally based on racial profil- ing, some police and politi- cians there warned that their city could turn into a bloody war zone like Chi- cago. Officials here re- sponded that crime in Chi- cago is at the lowest level in decades, even though our police happen to comply with the law. Unfortunately, sound bites don't prevent crime, and the story is more complicated than either side wanted to admit. Chicago police, like their counterparts in New York and every other big city, have their own proce- dures for stopping certain people in certain communi- ties and looking for guns, drugs, gang ties, or any oth- er signs of criminality. The policies in Chicago may be less visibly flawed than New York's, but they cause the same tensions between public safety and personal liberty. By law, police need to have a reason to stop and interview someone. But not much of one—all that's re- quired is "reasonable suspi- cion" of criminal activity, which allows for wide dis- cretion. Police can't say someone is suspicious just because he's standing on the street, but if it's a street known for drug activity and he's been out there for two hours while six buses drove by, that might be another story. Cops have even more latitude in high-crime areas, where suspicion can be jus- tified by "nervous, evasive behavior," according to the U.S. Supreme Court. If police suspect the per- son may be armed or poten- tially poses a threat, they may also conduct a protec- tive pat-down, or frisk. If they have evidence of a crime, they're allowed to conduct a full search and make an arrest. Veteran Chicago police say it's their job to interact with people and recognize when they have a good— and legal—reason to con- duct a more formal inter- view. "I could be driving around, and they give what I call the fish eye," explains one police supervisor. "You know something's up. That's when you want to inquire a little more." He stresses that while po- lice want to be aggressive, they're hardly looking for a reason to frisk people. "Coppers want to go out there and catch the bad guys. It's fun. But you don't want to mess with legiti- mate people. It's a waste of time. And [frisking] can be disgusting—some people are dirty." Chicago police make hun- dreds of thousands of stops each year, primarily in Af- rican-American and His- panic neighborhoods. In most cases, they don't find any evidence of a crime. But under police depart- ment rules, officers are re- quired to keep a record of every interview or pat down they conduct that doesn't yield an arrest. These so-called "contact cards" include the address and phone number of the person interviewed, as well as tattoos, gang affiliation, and a description of the rea- son for the stop. The infor- mation goes into a comput- er database that police use to track crime trends and who's hanging out with whom. Citing a reason for the stop is critical. Under New York's stop-and-frisk poli- cy, officers are required to fill out similar forms. The often sparse reasoning for thousands of stops over the last few years—mostly of black and Latino men— was at the center of the fed- eral ruling. "'Furtive movements' are an insufficient basis for a stop or frisk if the officer cannot articulate anything more specific about the sus- picious nature of the move- ment," Judge Shira A. Scheindlin wrote in her opinion. "The same is true of merely being present in a 'high crime area.'" On the other hand, if the person incriminates him- self, the police don't need to worry about sticky con- stitutional issues governing interviews and searches. According to police, this happens in Chicago all the time—accounting for a ma- jority of the 40 marijuana- possession arrests in the city each day, to cite but one example. That was the case at Pu- laski and Iowa on that spring evening in 2011, the officers reported. They said that as they approached, the suspect blurted out: "I only got a few bags of weed in my shorts." One of the cops then searched the suspect and found ten small plastic bags of suspected cannabis in his left-front pants pock- et. Altogether the baggies weighed less than half an ounce and were worth an estimated $66. Two other officers arrived at the scene and they placed the suspect under arrest. It took more than two hours to book him at the station. He was released early the next morning, and several weeks later he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor pos- session. Reports of suspects volun- teering that they're carrying drugs, or throwing them to the ground as cops ap- proach, are so common that some defense attorneys and civil libertarians assume it's a standard way of getting around questions about the legality of stops, frisks, and searches. "The allegations are, 'I was minding my business but because I'm of a certain race and I'm male and I'm in a certain neighborhood with lots of crime, they stopped me'—they're a lot of my cases," says Chelsey Robinson, a defense attor- ney who works with low- income defendants for the Chicago Bar Association. In court it's the officer's word against the defend- ant's. Robinson says that's why most of her clients just want to plead guilty and be done with it—they assume there's no way they can win. She urges them to de- mand a trial and fight the credibility of the evidence. "Sometimes the officer's story just doesn't add up," she says, or the prosecutors decide it's not worth pursu- ing. In fact, about 90 per- cent of all misdemeanor marijuana cases end up get- ting thrown out. But Robinson says she's not convinced there's an unwritten policy encourag- ing officers to evade the law. "I think it's just police officers zealously trying to do their job by whatever means necessary," she says. Police say officers here are trained to know they can only stop someone if they can explain their rea- sonable suspicion. Still, they're also under tremen- dous pressure to fill out contact cards and make ar- rests, especially in high- crime areas. Some civil lib- erties advocates believe that, as in New York, many stops are made without a clear or credible reason. "If you keep pushing the police to do something about crime, you get stop and frisk," says Tracy Sis- ka, executive director of the Chicago Justice Project, a watchdog organization. "Stopping and frisking eve- ryone is going to reduce violence in the short term. But is that the solution we're going for as a socie- ty? It doesn't get at any of the underlying issues about education, poverty, and jobs."