[LINK] Government, CrimeNet: In the same business?
Mon, 19 Jun 2000 09:23:14 +1000
Government, CrimeNet: In the same business?
By Megan McAuliffe,
ZDNet Australia News
16 June 00
Despite demanding the closure of controversial Web site CrimeNet, the
Victorian government is in fact conducting a similar line of business --
selling records based on court proceedings.
The difference is that CrimeNet sells details of criminal convictions,
while the state provides civil records to the credit reference industry.
But that' s a split hair to CrimeNet's operator Ken Shultz.
Since a murder retrial was aborted in May for possible jury prejudice,
resulting from the criminal records available on the site, CrimeNet has
been under pressure to close down. And most of that pressure has come from
Victoria's Attorney General Mr Rob Hulls.
"Rob Hulls has made all the noises about us, and apparently they are in
exactly the same business as we are," Shultz told ZDNet Australia.
The Victorian Government has contracts with three credit reporting agencies
to provide electronic access to the records of the Magistrates courts,
according to ABC TV's PM report this week.
In the last financial year the Victorian Government earned about AU$60,000
from the sales of court records to credit reporting agencies. Records are
sold to credit reference agencies for AU$1.20 per order, while individuals
can also search the database for AU$12.50 for every five minutes.
"The difference between this information which relates to civil debts and
CrimeNet is that CrimeNet relates to a person's alleged criminal history
and that information has potential to abort criminal trials. And that's not
just me saying that, a Supreme Court judge found that," Hulls said in the
"When we are talking about matters that have been supplied by the
Magistrates Court it is a matter that is indeed on the public record. It
relates to civil debt and it's totally different between that particular
matter and aborting criminal trials."
Shultz told ZDNet Australia there has been no decision involving CrimeNet's
future in Australia. The Attorney General is "still not satisfied at this
stage," with concessions Shultz has made, such as withholding the details
of overturned convictions and persons facing retrial.
Shultz believes the threat of a contempt of court charge is still hanging
over him, which is why he is "still negotiating a sale overseas," he said.
Basic research is when I'm doing what I don't know I'm doing.
-- Wernher von Braun