The New York Times piece, Personal Data for the Taking: Students Find It’s Easy to Find Out a Lot About People, is mostly a less alarmist rehash of the Western world’s debate over the extent to which public records should remain open and which records and information should be on the Internet. Students at Johns Hopkins set out to see what personal details they could gather in free sources on the Internet. Rebecca Daugherty, a director at the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press has noted that openness by the government can actually lead to greater security. In the NYT article she names closure of records for what it is: secrecy; and that this should only be invoked in the case of protecting individuals from known threats.
Also cited, former Texas private investigator, David Bloys, now a public records retriever, is behind the push to restrict access to government documents on the Internet. I previously wrote about HB3278 here. Bloys told me that he opposes redacting information from government documents, except when an individual petitions the court because of threats to her or his safety. Bloys contends that a “county exceeds the authority that citizens have given them” when county or state documents are published on the internet. He does not oppose the distribution of index information on the Internet. A problem he noted is that identity thieves are accessing the documents with greater ease and using the government seals or personal signatures to create fraudulent property transfers. Bloys predicts that local governments are ripe for class action lawsuits by those that have had their security compromised.
Those of you in Texas and others interested in the application of biometrics will want to read this bill, but also take a look at the fiscal analysis, which points out that fingerprints would no longer be permitted to be stored in a database! HB3278 states, in part:
Sec. 560.002. DISCLOSURE OF BIOMETRIC IDENTIFIER. A governmental body that possesses a biometric identifier of an individual: (1) may not sell, lease, or otherwise disclose the biometric identifier to another person unless: (A) the individual consents to the disclosure;
(B) the disclosure is required or permitted by a federal statute or by a state statute other than Chapter 552; or (C) the disclosure is made by or to a law enforcement agency for a law enforcement purpose; [and] (2) shall store, transmit, and protect from disclosure the biometric identifier using reasonable care and in a manner that is the same as or more protective than the manner in which the governmental body stores, transmits, and protects its other confidential information; and (3) may not store a biometric identifier in a database.