Court Looking for Safest Way to Put Records on the Web
County courthouses across the country have been placing court documents online, and this practice is exposing the private information of millions of Americans and court officials to the scanning eyes of identity thieves, parties in lawsuits, and professional companies that amalgamate and resell information about people.
Franklin County, OH, is creating a list of items that should be redacted from online copies of court documents, and they are investing in software that expunges this information automatically.
This list includes Social Security records, juvenile evaluations, HIV tests, names of children who are victims of sexual violence, and police officer addresses and phone numbers.
In comparison, Hamilton County, Ohio, has been publishing its court documents on the Internet for eight years. County officials have shut down online access three times because private financial and personal information has leaked out.
For instance, baseball catcher Johnny Bench filed for divorce in Hamilton County, OH, and his divorce papers received more than 18,000 Internet views in just their first day online.
”The court has to balance the very important Constitutional requirement of open court with the need to protect individual privacy,” says one court spokesperson.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Columbus Dispatch (OH); 05/20/07; P. 1A; Carmen, Barbara.