The internet can be a wonderful tool in that users have access to more or less the sum of all human knowledge. Have a question you need answered? Google it. Interested in information about 17th century philosophers? No problem. Up until recently, though, some personal information has been kept private in order to protect individuals. For example, it isn’t always easy to find someone’s phone number or address simply by “Google-ing” it – that is, if they’ve gone to any length to keep it hidden, such as removing their listing from the phone book.
Arrest records, as well, were kept private and accessible only by law enforcement and the courts. That, like so many things lately, has now changed. Thanks to websites like www.localcrimenews.com, arrestfiles.org and www.jailbase.com, an individual’s arrest record (and in some cases their “mugshot” as well) are posted online. It’s considered public record and there isn’t anything anyone can do about having it removed. There aren’t any laws against publishing someone’s arrest records, and since the arrest actually happened, the websites can’t be sued for slander or libel.
So, what’s the big deal? If an individual was arrested for a serious crime, it would likely be on the news anyways, right? Well, yes, but the fact that people’s arrest records are posted online makes it quite simple for landlords, potential employers and anyone they deal with, really, to have access to that information and can use it for whatever purpose they choose.