From Cradle to Grave: Government Records and Your Privacy


Fact Sheet 11From Cradle to Grave:
Government Records and Your Privacy

PRC Rebutts Newspaper Editorial Lauding Full Disclosure of Personal Information of Campaign Contributors on www.fundrace.org


Your March 30th editorial on the website www.FundRace.org has it wrong. You tell people "there's no reason to fear" the fact that their name, home address, occupation, and campaign contribution information is on the Internet for all the world to see. But many individuals have very legitimate reasons to not want their home address posted on the Internet.

Public Records on the Internet: The Privacy Dilemma


One of the most challenging public policy issues of our time is the balancing act between access to public records and personal privacy - the difficulty of accommodating both personal privacy interests and the public interest of transparent government. I will discuss the privacy implications of making public records containing personal information available on the Internet. I list nine negative consequences of the availability of public records online. I conclude by offering 11 recommendations for safeguarding personal privacy while upholding the public policy reason for providing access, that being to promote government accountability.

Privacy Today: A Review of Current Issues


The purpose of this report is to highlight and summarize key privacy issues affecting consumers today and tomorrow. Readers who want to explore issues in depth should visit the Web sites of government agencies, public interest groups, industry associations, and companies. A list of public interest groups that are working on these issues is provided at the end of the report.

Public Access to Electronic Case Files


We recognize the convenience to the courts and counsel in electronic filing, the need to reduce paper files, and the long-standing principles of public access to court proceedings. However, the PRC and EFF believe the potential for both intangible invasions of privacy by those who have no need to know and more tangible harms such as identity theft outweigh reliance on a system that provides full access to court records electronically. Convenience and storage problems in this electronic age need to be addressed, but hopefully in such a way as to protect not only the public interest by providing access to public records, but to protect privacy interests as well.

Bankruptcy, Public Records and Privacy


The PRC and EFF recognize the long-standing principle that the public interest is served by open court proceedings, and that, in fact, public disclosure of bankruptcy proceedings is mandated by statute. However, we can conceive of no public interest to be served in a system that would readily subject individuals in bankruptcy to identity thieves and unscrupulous marketing. Access to an individual's personal information is obviously required in order for court personnel and bankruptcy trustees to do their jobs. But, access beyond this necessity to Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and other personal information on the Internet would seem to be an invitation for abuse.

Comments In Opposition to the Court Technnology Committee Draft Rule: Access to Electronic Records


The Draft Rule endorsed by the Court Technology Committee would require that all records a court makes available to the public also be made available electronically. This Draft Rule is actually the recommendation of only the minority of members of the Privacy and Access Subcommittee. The majority recommended an Alternate Draft Rule ("Alternate Rule") which would require electronic access only to specified index information in case files, exclusive of all non-public data and references to cases, courts or persons, other than the parties and their attorneys.

Using Court Record Information for Marketing in the United States: It's Public Information, What's the Problem? (Gottlieb)


Your divorce was final last month and today you received a postcard from a local health club advertising a Ladies' Special membership. You have been thinking it is time for a "new you" and joining a health club would be a step in that direction. Is the postcard a coincidence, or good timing and smart marketing on the health club's part? It might not be a coincidence if you live in Ipswich, Massachusetts where the Probate and Family Court recently received a request from a local health club seeking the names and addresses of recently divorced women.

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