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Thursday, May 17, 2007


With over 40 percent of the search engine market, Google wants to expand its services into displaying your public records online. They’ve “partnered” with four states: Arizona , California, Utah and Virginia, as reported in a piece. Privacy advocates are worried because in some cases, personal data is stored with the public records and would be revealed in an Internet search. You can get a lot of this information now, but in most cases you have to pay for it. With Google’s move, it’s out there for anyone to claim. In a situation not connected to Google, a Phoenix television station, KPHO-TV, did an investigative report on Arizona’s release of this data. They learned that the home address, phone number, birth date, and even Social Security number of the subject of the investigation were made available online by the Maricopa County, Arizona Recorders Office. In a quasi-sting operation, KPHO had him request that it be removed right away. Since this was a restitution lien—he owed the county $1,200 for a decade-old court charge—the clerk refused. Not so said the Chief Deputy Recorder to KPHO-TV, and the private information was deleted. The question arises: how many victims can get their local television station to go to bat for them? Also, Maricopa County says it will now take up to six months to eliminate two decades worth of documents. For the Google connection, I’m following up with Arizona’s chief information officer to find out exactly what records are being made available, which I will post later. So good luck if you live in Arizona…and I do.

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