OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Sunday, March 26, 2006 :::

Your Data, On the Web

The pages of the TD read more like a racing form than anything else today -- the legislature is coming back into town and it's time to look over the horseflesh to see which of these ponies has a shot...and which will end up with a one-way ticket to Iams.

It's in the business section that I found something of genuine interest, this Iris Taylor column, where she tells us that while the worthies were busy positioning themselves to play in the mud, they were neglecting to do something quite important: shielding sensitive personal data online.

I warned you last September that localities are planning to put your Social Security number and other private information on the Internet by July.

Where does this issue stand now?

Bad news: You lost the battle in the General Assembly to keep court clerks from exposing your personal identifying information online to anybody who pays to see it.

Your only recourse now is to get your Social Security number inked over on legal documents before they get recorded.

There are a variety of rationalizations for making every digit of your personal data public, none of which pass the laugh test.

Betty Ostergren, who runs the Virginia Watchdog site, has done yeoman work on this issue, keeping close track of what happens not only locally, but nationally as well. If you poke around on her site a bit, you'll find some rather interesting legal documents from various Virginia and national pols...complete with all sorts of very personal information ( a representative listing can be found here).

There may very well be a compelling public need for any and all documents to be online. But that case has not, and I believe cannot, be made.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/26/2006 1 comments


"You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they also produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man

"The graveyards are full of indespensable men" -- Charles de Gaulle

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