Counties Work to Hide Personal Data
Several counties across the nation are following in the footsteps of Florida’s Orange County Comptroller’s office by removing personally identifiable information from official records on their Web sites.
Back in April 2005, Orange County reviewed over 30 million pages of public records, searching for Social Security numbers, credit cards numbers, and bank account information.
Several counties and local governments are now blacking out personal information from documents or taking the documents off their Web sites altogether. Florida, New York, and Washington have already passed laws requiring recorders to redact personal information from online records.
Public concern over personal data has still not caught the attention of several county governments, says B.J. Ostergren, a privacy advocate.
A Grant County, Indiana, recorder’s office removed documents from the Internet only after a lawsuit was filed related to identity theft.
Travis County, Texas, pulled all document images of its Web site this past June and recently put them back online after redacting sensitive data.
“The more publicity this has gotten, the more people are getting to know about the issue,” says Ostergren. “I think a lot of people are beginning to put the skids on this sort of issue.”
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from Computerworld (12/15/06); Vijayan, Jaikumar.