Friday, March 14, 2003

Risks of background checks

There is a trend after 9/11 to perform more background checks on individuals as a requirement for all kinds of things--employment being a major. Data integrity issues are probably the biggest risk with these kinds of checks. Who has your data? Where did they get it from? How do you know it is accurate? How can you correct mistakes?

I reviewed a background check service that is used for credit checks mainly and was surprised to see that they offered the ability to check against the _____________________

This is a case of just not doing a very thorough query of the information in the first place. Reminds me of the recent erroneous (and perjurious?) BSA complaint against OpenOffice based on an inaccurate search query and lack of human sanity-checking of the result. "The computer said there was a match. And computers don't lie..."

Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 18:14:45 -0800 (PST)
From: Max Power
Subject: Identity mixup: NZ teacher identified as prostitute

Michelle Garforth (Dunedin, NZ) applied to be registered as a teacher, after
finishing four years of training. She was notified that she was "likely" to
be a prostitute convicted on four charges, including two assaults, based on
a computer match of her maiden name and birthdate. Despite going to the
police and submitting to fingerprinting that demonstrated she was not the
person in question, she was not cleared until weeks later -- after her local
Member of Parliament had intervened. [Source: Prostitute mix-up shocks
teacher, by Ruth Berry, 06 March 2003; PGN-ed],2106,2309649a7694,00.html

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