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Strewth! These days you just don't know if your babysitter, neighbour or football coach is actually a crazed, evil and malicious criminal (welcome modern alienation and paranoia). But an Australia Web site wants to change all that. It has built a database of criminals based on newspaper reports of convictions and invites you to check up on anyone you're not too sure about. A small fee will get the information you're after. Helpfully organised into categories like Wanted Persons, Unsolved Crimes, Conmen & Scams, and featuring a search engine and rewards section, the site opens a big can of worms marked "privacy". The site aims to supply you with "the information you need to protect yourself". It points out quite rightly that court judgments are a matter of public record and argues that making this information readily accessible is a service to the public good. The problem though - as it always is when dealing with internet issues - is that this information is so easy to get hold of. The argument - "if you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about" - is disturbing in its apparent logic and is often used to hide a multitude of privacy-invading measures. Aside from the fact that newspaper reports are not always 100 per cent accurate, the concept of rehabilitation is a very strong element of our justice system. If someone does their time, are they not entitled to a second chance without prejudice? Also, by supplying information on paedophiles, the site is left open to accusations that it will encourage vigilantes. Ironically, the site lists a strict privacy policy. including a ban on cookies and information gathering on visitors. Whatever the outcome or success of the site, it is a clear indication that international and domestic law is dangerously lagging technological progress. ® Jeff the xenophobic dustman says: "That's bleedin' rich coming from the Aussies. Bunch of bloody school teachers coming over all high and mighty. Tell you what though - probably be easier to list the non-criminals. After all, they all come from criminals off the prison ships ain't they? Harr harr harr"

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