The Iowa legislature is chewing over the notion that open government records may be responsible for identity theft and should be restricted. The Identity Theft Prevention Study Committee met last month and developed a collection of recommendations, including redacting certain “personal information” — that fuzzy term has yet to be defined — in public records. One of the panelists, Dan Combs of The Coalition for Sensible Public Records Access , a consortium of commercial public records aggregators, argued that redaction of public records is ineffectual and misses the supposed objective of curtailing “identity theft”, another fuzzy term. The Coalition site has position papers and summaries on public records access, such as this one on the important uses of the Social Security number by businesses and government.
What other constructive uses of the SSN identifier would you add?
Now, head down to Arizona where the Phoenix City Attorney has advised the police department to restrict disclosure of police records on the handy claim that thieves are scouring public records for personal information. The police department will start redacting victim names, birth dates of suspects AND those who are convicted and sitting in jail, and the addresses where crimes are committed. The dictum is being unevenly enforced, different types of data being excised, or not at all. Phoenix may expand this scattered policy to include code enforcement records. Which state law is this suppose to comport with?