Federal Reporting Should Be Automatic

With the recent gun massacre in a church, it came to light the attacker should have been barred from purchasing firearms on the open market due to a prior conviction. And now Congress may amend the law to try to strengthen mandatory reporting. But that’s the wrong move here. Why leave open the option for someone to neglect to do the mandatory when they could require that the system be automatic?

For this and many other data issues, we still rely on some human to either file a piece of paperwork or otherwise ensure that the relevant notifications are made. That’s wrong. The existence of computerized records means that such notifications and updates should be completely automated. This includes the elimination of the need to acquire certified copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates, along with other routine and necessary data sharing. There should be a widespread effort to let computers do what they’re good at so that humans don’t have to.

With automatic reporting, mistakes will still be made by humans. There needs to be an auditing process and a corrections process. But even there, once corrected, the updates should be automatic.

We can move toward blockchain-backed systems that allow for improved recognition of where errors have occurred and been corrected. But it’s high time that we remove error-prone mandates that pass without action.