A story in yesterday\u2019s New York Times\u00a0has me thinking about Terry Gilliam\u2019s great dystopia movie Brazil. In the film, the modern computer is never developed. Instead, data processing is handled by banks of automated typewriters. One day a fly falls into one of the machines and an arrest warrant supposed to be made out in the name of Harry Tuttle (the film\u2019s Robin Hood character) is made out in the name of Harry Buttle, a nebbish who has never bothered anyone in his life. As a result Buttle is grabbed by the authorities and whisked away to a location so secret the government won\u2019t even admit it exists.\n\tThe story in The Times\u00a0is entitled \u201cRetailers Track Employee Thefts in Vast Databases." The databases are designed to ensure that people who have stolen from their employers in the past never get a job in retail again. You might expect companies to carefully vet the data provided by these systems, given the significant impact on peoples\u2019 lives it could potentially have.\n\t\n\t\t"The repositories of information, like First Advantage Corporation\u2019s Esteem database, often contain scant details about suspected thefts and routinely do not involve criminal charges. Still, the information can be enough to scuttle a job candidate\u2019s chances. \u2026 But the databases, which are legal, are facing scrutiny from labor lawyers and federal regulators, who worry they are so sweeping that innocent employees can be harmed."\n\n\tOne example:\n\t\n\t\t"Kyra Moore, then a CVS employee, was accused of stealing: 'picked up socks left them at the checkout and never came back to buy them.'"\n \n\tThe use of background checks in hiring is a wise move by employers, and providing these checks is a rapidly growing business. But even some of these providers have their doubts about the data banks.\n\t\n\t\t"That is not a product that we sell, because I think it\u2019s a product fraught with risk and inefficiency," said William Greenblatt, the chief executive of the background-check company Sterling Infosystems, in The Times story.\n\n\tSo in the mad rush to adopt big data \u2013 or any other buzzword, remember GIGO: Garbage in, garbage out. Or, to put it another way, trust but always verify.