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Eliminating Privacy Concerns for Online Access to Public Documents Nick Haralampopoulos April 16, 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "Eliminating Privacy Concerns for Online Access to Public Documents Nick Haralampopoulos April 16, 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 Eliminating Privacy Concerns for Online Access to Public Documents Nick Haralampopoulos April 16, 2003

2 Online Access to Public Documents Public Records accessible via the Internet The Federal courts working together = Progress State courts –Development burden, Funding While each are at different stages which may cause future uniformity problems…a concern that they are both facing is trying to balance public access and privacy protection.

3 Public vs. Privacy Conceptually Public access to electronic court records provides a convenient way for the public to monitor the judicial system and ensure fairness and equality of its operations. Public advocates basic argument: – Public means Public- Content is same. Privacy advocates basic argument –Electronic format changes many aspects that cause significant privacy concerns. –Access part of the equation is cause for concern.

4 Thesis Even though significant privacy issues exist regarding online access to public documents, implementation of current suggestions will reduce privacy invasion to a minimal.

5 Public Argument Since the paper filed court documents are public documents and all of its contents are available for the public to see, then in electronic format the whole file should be available to the the public as well. –Same information should be available –Public right that nothing deemed public should be limited from the public

6 Privacy Argument More than substituting an electronic system for a paper based system –Careful planning is needed to achieve balance. –Can’t ignore that there are important differences between traditional and electronic records. –Depository vs. Publisher The access capability is unlimited, remote, anonymously, anyone at anytime.

7 Privacy Argument Paper-based has limitations –In person, in specific location, sign for it (sometimes), time consuming manual searches, and returning the file in tact all deter misuse. –Realize the great benefits of an online record Time saver, elimination of physical presence, simultaneous access, word searches. –Access is the key problem here

8 Without Access Restrictions Although technically public records, the ease of viewing opens the door to a great number of people. Ease of searching can motivate someone to take the time to search for personal information and even profit of it. –Physical and mental health records –Victim/witness information –Personal financial information –Sexual activities or act of infidelity revealed –A business's trade secrets etc.

9 Some Solutions Some courts charge a fee to obtain online access. –Hope is to deter misuse, but fee is minimal –Limits online benefits Passwords and Logons Identification –Eliminates Anonymous use –Who qualifies for a password? –Passwords could also be used for confidential documents only Redacting Requirement –Lawyers would be required to protect their client by blocking out private information –Great cost and time

10 My Suggestion Access is the problem so fix access. Limit the Who, Where, and How and leave the What alone…

11 My Suggestion- The Who The Who- instead of having unlimited access via the Internet for everyone. –Permanent password: (FOA) Attorneys, Government Agencies, Police. –Temporary password: (TOA) Parties of interest. Note: –Permanent passwords must be protected or face sanctions –An FOA user may download file, but must protect it or face sanctions Can e-mail it to other people under confidentiality,but cannot post it on any website

12 My Suggestions- The Where The Where- while the FOA users have remote access with their permanent passwords, the general public(GP) can still gain access through kiosks in the courthouses, libraries, or other licensed location of that state. –Each kiosks will have all the records of the state –There will be a help desk staff that provides info and serves as a supervisor to protect against misuse. –The GP user would have to sign in and show identification, and then will be able to use word search features, will be allowed to print, but will not be able to download a version. –This way the GP receives the increased access (not remote, but increased locations statewide), and the time saving benefits, but still has physical presence in front of a state official.

13 My Suggestions- The How The How- pertains to how it the will be regulated. Court should adopt new laws to allow for each user and search to be recorded. New laws should be passed under “cybercrime” or “anti-hacker” laws to prosecute any misuse of public record or any unauthorized access of public record. (ie a hacker illegally getting access from a remote location)

14 My Suggestions- The What The What- is the what information is posted online. Focus of most solutions. But, paper public records presently allow access to all that information anyway. –Tedious work of making sure no private inforamtion slips into the file (not to mention filtering all the existing paper files when they are transferred to electronic format) –Easier to simply limit who gets the info, and where and how they get it. –Forget the concerns about the what, if the concerns haven’t caused a change in the traditional paper file, why with the electronic format?

15 Conclusion Therefore, I confidently believe that once a uniform electronic document system makes it to the internet, then, with the implementation of current solutions (either mine or a something similar) the privacy concerns of online access would be minimized. Solutions exist, its just a matter of the committees agreeing on the solution.

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