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Texas AG Opinion Causes County Clerks to Shut Down Records Access


February 27, 2007 By

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott rendered an opinion last week that government bodies are prohibited from disclosing Social Security Numbers in government records, and that disclosing such information is a criminal offense under the Public Information Act.

The opinion has created a furor among county clerks. A notice on the Travis County Clerk's site says: "We are currently evaluating a recently released Attorney Generals Opinion. One possible result is that images of documents will have to be removed from Internet access unless the Attorney General takes more positive action on this issue. This could occur as soon as February 26, 2007. We regret any inconvenience this may cause."

The Williamson County Clerk Web site has a similar notice: "You should expect long lines in the clerk's office as every document must be thoroughly reviewed by staff prior to making a copy for the requestor. Thank you for your patience during this necessary transition.

According to an article in today's Austin American-Statesman panicked clerks have closed public records access computer terminals and one office blocked records with crime-scene tape.


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Comments

Anonymous    |    Commented March 23, 2007

The CIRA mailing list included a message indicating this to be a humorous article. The entire SSN-as-ID debacle is far from being funny. AFAIK the SSN cards themselves used to bear a statement to the effect that federal law prohibited their use for purposes of ID. Now it's become a requirement. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Anonymous    |    Commented March 23, 2007

The CIRA mailing list included a message indicating this to be a humorous article. The entire SSN-as-ID debacle is far from being funny. AFAIK the SSN cards themselves used to bear a statement to the effect that federal law prohibited their use for purposes of ID. Now it's become a requirement. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Anonymous    |    Commented March 23, 2007

The CIRA mailing list included a message indicating this to be a humorous article. The entire SSN-as-ID debacle is far from being funny. AFAIK the SSN cards themselves used to bear a statement to the effect that federal law prohibited their use for purposes of ID. Now it's become a requirement. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Anonymous    |    Commented March 26, 2007

Someone in the IT world said "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." The reason that exposing the SSN to the world is a privacy issue is that it is used as an identifier in so many places already. Finally, you have to admit that the image of a public access terminal being blocked away from public access by crime scene tape is a little humorous. Well, it is humorous whether you admit it or not.

Anonymous    |    Commented March 26, 2007

Someone in the IT world said "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." The reason that exposing the SSN to the world is a privacy issue is that it is used as an identifier in so many places already. Finally, you have to admit that the image of a public access terminal being blocked away from public access by crime scene tape is a little humorous. Well, it is humorous whether you admit it or not.

Anonymous    |    Commented March 26, 2007

Someone in the IT world said "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." The reason that exposing the SSN to the world is a privacy issue is that it is used as an identifier in so many places already. Finally, you have to admit that the image of a public access terminal being blocked away from public access by crime scene tape is a little humorous. Well, it is humorous whether you admit it or not.


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