Saturday, March 05, 2005

ChoicePoint: an undistinguished choice

Ever since first writing (here, here and here) about ChoicePoint as Taser, International's pick to do background checks when they sell their weapons to the public, I've been hearing from EMers with other ChoicePoint revelations. Here are a couple of things that have come up.

It is not too reassuring that ChoicePoint will be all that stands between me and a fellow citizen wielding a Taser since we know so far they have not been too astute in figuring out that they themselves were doing business with criminals. It turns out that the recent sale of 150,000 private records to identity thieves was not even the first time this has happened to ChoicePoint. Wired has a story that a brother and sister took them for a ride in 2002 by using false papers to obtain the accounts of 7000 people, which the pair then sold to Nigerian immigrants for $40 to $50 a pop. (AP via Wired)

There has also been a fair amount written about ChoicePoint's role in the 2000 Florida presidential election "process" as well. The dKosopedia has a good rundown. Here's a bit of it:
Journalist Greg Palast has argued that the firm cooperated with Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and Florida Elections Unit Chief Clay Roberts, in a conspiracy of voter fraud, involving the central voter file, during the US Presidential Election of 2000. The allegations charge that 57,700 people (15% of the list), primarily Democrats of African-American and Hispanic descent, were incorrectly listed as felons and thus barred from voting. Palast estimates that 80% of these people would have voted, and that 90% of those who would have voted, would have voted for Al Gore. The official (and disputed) margin of victory, in the election, was 537 votes.

ChoicePoint Vice President Martin Fagan has admitted that at least 8,000 names were incorrectly listed in this fashion when the company passed on a list given by the state of Texas, these 8,000 names were removed prior to the election. Fagan has described the error as a "minor glitch". ChoicePoint, as a matter of policy, does not verify the accuracy of its data and argues that it is the user's responsibility to verify accuracy.
There's lots more stuff at dKosopedia and plenty of links.

So good choice, Taser, International. You've hired the best.