The privacy advocates are on the warpath to close access to online images of UCC filings, state by state. Last week the Arizona Secretary of State removed the Uniform Commercial Code filing documents from the Web site after a privacy fanatic apparently claimed that the site was a place that criminals trolled for Social Security numbers. Is there any proof for this?
Although new UCC financing statements in Massachusetts have the Social Security numbers removed from online documents there is pressure, which the Secretary of State has so far resisted, to take down the site completely.
This is an issue that has pitted the interests of consumer lobbyists against those who might otherwise be allies: the champions of open government. Public records that are accessible to all, free, and unaltered by the government are under threat by regulation, statute and public hysteria over a misplaced fear of identity theft. Surely there is a way we can keep these records available on the Internet for legitimate business and research purposes without aggravating the problem of identity theft. What do you think? Are public records a serious, documented contributor to identity fraud?