Saturday, December 27, 2003

Yesterday's ran an interesting article about the conflict between online data and privacy interests (click here to view). At the registry, people constantly express their concern that information about their property is freely available online. While deeds and mortgages have always been public records, there's a big difference between having your mortgage buried in a dusty record book on a shelf in the courthouse and having it freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. As someone once said, the older records were protected by "practical obscurity." Still, the benefits of having land records on the Internet greatly outweigh the privacy concerns (as legitimate as those concerns are). At the registry, we do what we can to protect privacy. For example, we will not record any document (except tax liens) that contains a social security number. But the solution does not lie with limiting access to information but with increased penalties for those who misuse the information.

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