To try to prevent newspaper access to computer databases, the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System (DELJIS) has argued that:

  1. By using fields to link cases related to a defendant, a criminal history record will be created. That record, along with age, race, gender and geographic details, make it possible to cross-reference data fields with information appearing in newspapers such as The News Journal and other public databases to identify, by name, individuals in the DELJIS database.

  2. Releasing a police officer’s name and/ or identifying number would be an invasion of personal privacy and safety.

  3. The newspaper is not considered a research entity and for that reason is not permitted by state code to access this data through a user’s agreement.

To try to get access to the information, The News Journal has argued that:

  1. The News Journal is studying the criminal justice system and has no interest in attempting to put names to criminal history records. Further, less than two percent of all felonies are reported in The News Journal, and there are no other databases available that could be used to cross reference the DELJIS database in order to re-identify individuals, given the limited information of age, race, gender and county of residence. Further, The News Journal has a statutory right to obtain specific conviction information on an individual and does so regularly when reporting daily news stories. Thus, The News Journal has no reason to use the database to identify individuals, assuming that were possible.

  2. The names of police officers regularly appear in a number of public records.

  3. DELJIS has provided access to this information to groups outside of the media, some with a user’s agreement and some without. These requests have not been litigated. Therefore, the newspaper is not receiving equal treatment under the law.

  4. The state is trying, through repeated litigation, to interfere with citizens’ right to “easy access to public records” accorded in the Delaware Freedom of Information Act.

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