"We've become a nation of digital scarlet letters. Nearly every crime is now entered into massive databases that track transgressions nationwide. Increasingly, these databases are available to almost anyone for the asking -- law enforcement, border agents, foreign governments, future employers, and even nosy neighbors. Because of these perpetually available records, there is sometimes no way to put a crime behind you, even after you've paid your debt to society. A short prison sentence for a felony assault -- or for throwing a cup of soda at a passing car ? can become a lifetime criminal record."