This week in public records – Florida – Oregon – Kansas – Georgia

Add Florida to the list of states that are concocting ill conceived “identity theft” legislation. Before long it’ll be a crime to know another person’s name. HB 1117 seeks to make possession of personal identifying information on a person without their prior approval a felony. The legislative staff analysis provides a summary.

HB 1117 also creates a new section of statute which provides that any person who willfully possesses “sensitive personal information” concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent commits a third degree felony. The term “sensitive personal information” is defined to mean any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual
including any:
• Alien registration number
• Government passport number
• Employer or taxpayer identification number
• Medicaid or food stamp account number
• Bank account number
• Credit or debit card number
• Unique biometric data, such as fingerprint, voice print, retina or iris image, or other unique physical representation

Unlike the identity theft statute, this section will not require proof that the person possessed the sensitive personal information with intent to fraudulently use it – only that the person willfully possessed it without first
obtaining permission of the individual.

Florida Bill HB 1211 would make distributing personal information without that person’s permission a misdemeanor. Are legislators being lazy in crafting laws that are so broad, or are they trying to bring legitimate business and the functions of the courts to a complete standstill?

HB 1213 bars the release of personal identifying information in public records. Other proposed legislation would remove certain information from court files and restrict the release of motor vehicle records.

I’d like to hear from private investigators, attorneys and journalists in Florida about the prospects of these measures. I sure hope they’re all working together.
AP story: Scores of legislative bills seek to limit public’s access to Florida records

On a more upbeat note, an Oregon government site has created a directory and search engine for locating databases of city, county, state and federal licenses, certifications, permits, and registrations. Quickly locate the Web site to lookup professional licenses and business permits. This is an ongoing project and most of the current links are state agencies.

A Kansas newspaper editorial elucidates just one of the many reasons why the Kansas Supreme Court’s mandate that government agencies redact personal information before releasing records to the public is harmful. The case is Data Tree, LLC v. Bill Meek, Sedgwick County Register of Deeds.

Unsolved criminal case files may be public records, not necessarily “open investigation” cases, according to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The court sided with the newspaper in, Athens Newspapers, L.L.C. v. Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, which asserted that a 1992 unsolved murder case was dormant and the police were defeating the purpose of the Open Records Act by claiming the case was still pending.

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One thought on “This week in public records – Florida – Oregon – Kansas – Georgia

  1. Tara, thank you for this timely notice. Our lobbyist in Florida is checking the statuses of HB 1117 and 1211 and their senate companions. FALI is already mobilizing our members to begin contacting their representatives.

    As 1st vice president and legislative chair of FALI, it is my duty to investigate these bills and I work closely with FALI’s lobbyist, Ben Poitevent, to determine the status of these bills as they move through committees. I understand that HB1117 may be DOA, but we are scrutinizing HB 1211 and 1213 and watching their progress closely.

    Again, thanks for your timely updates. We will keep you posted and appreciate your watchfulness.

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