Privacy and Access to Public Records in the Digital Age

Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 62

Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper No. 40

27 Pages Posted: 2 May 2006

See all articles by Sol Bermann

Sol Bermann

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

Online public record access brings a wealth of benefits ranging from greater government access and accountability to increased cost-savings and efficiencies. However, due to the presence of highly sensitive, personal data, an increase in public records access also brings potential dangers, including heightened risk of identity theft and frivolous snooping into the affairs of others.

Historically, public records have had some measure of public accessibility in order to empower citizens with the ability to observe the goings-on of government, leading to greater government accountability. Until the rise of the internet, citizens have had their privacy protected through practical obscurity (the notion that to actually look at public records, a person would have to physically visit the record holder's office to see a record).

Expanding on lessons learned from the experiences of the Privacy and Public Access Sub-Committee of the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Technology and the Courts, this paper will discuss the controversies surrounding online access to public records. In addition, it will offer recommendations as to how government can, by modifying public records laws and rules so that public record information is the same online and off-line, embrace the opportunities provided by online public records while securing the privacy of its citizens.

Keywords: sunshine, open records

JEL Classification: H11, K10, K19, K23

Suggested Citation

Bermann, Sol, Privacy and Access to Public Records in the Digital Age (April 2006). Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 62, Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper No. 40, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=899621 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.899621

Sol Bermann (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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