Is it legal for your sensitive data to be online?
The answer is YES. This article in FindLaw tells a gruesome tale of how state and local government is legally allowed to and has been posting your sensitive personal information online. This data could lead to identity theft and is being sucked out for use by data brokers that maintain files on everyone in the United States—and then sell your information to anyone that wants it. It was written by Anita Ramasastry, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law.
The reason for this troubling situation is that Florida - like many other states - has laws requiring that public records be available to the public, and that many of them be available online. Land records are public all over the country. In addition, electoral rolls, court records, and occupational licensing records are often available online. Moreover, bankruptcy records, family court records, and even civil litigation records are in the process of going online too.
These records may include not only Social Security numbers, birthdates, and financial information, but also sensitive medical data and financial records (relevant evidence in, for example, a divorce proceeding). They may also contain ways to bypass obstacles that could otherwise confound identity thieves, and forgers - such as images of signatures, passport numbers, and green-card details.
Ramasastry calls for “redaction” laws that require governments to remove sensitive data before it is posted online.
Redaction - the removal of sensitive information - is the only solution here, and one that legislatures ought to opt for as soon as possible.