Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Putting the past behind us

The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act (2004) was passed last night. This is a good thing. It allows people who made stupid mistakes as teenagers and never reoffended to put their past behind them and get on with their lives. At the same time, it strikes a good balance with protecting the public - records are still kept, and can be consulted when someone is applying for a sensitive position (such as in the police or security services); sexual offences and anything resulting in prison time are not concealed.

The downside is that it will create new business opportunities for scum like BayCorp, and give them new scope to ruin people's lives when they make a mistake. Theoretically this can be dealt with under the Privacy Act and libel law, but few have the resources to protect their reputation through the courts. Adding a provision imposing significant fines on those who do not correct false information when asked would have been good.