Arkansas Court Documents Going Online: Bad Policy for Private Information
By Ned Snow · October 11, 2008 · 2008 Ark. L. Notes
In categories: Intellectual Property, Legal Ethics, Legal Research
For all who may have missed the news, the Internet has erased dark secrets of yesteryear, freedom of information has finally arrived, and truth is prevailing. If it is true, it should be made public, for truth in the public’s hands can only lead to freedom—so I am told. Let us, then, hold nothing back. Let us make public the truth. Let us put everything on the Internet.
So goes the mantra of the information age. A culture of Web 2.0 has taken hold, spreading the belief that sharing information on the Internet can only be a good thing. And Arkansas has invested heavily in this belief. Arkansas is making available on the Internet its public-record documents for any Joe Public to view. This can only be good—right? Wrong. There is some information, some truth, some modicum of knowledge—that is simply better left unknown. Consider, for instance, the thousands of court records available online through one Arkansas county’s website: now freely available to the virtual public are arrest records containing the full name of the accused, date of birth, charged offense, phone number, address, and—not to be overlooked—social security number. It’s all online. A few mouse clicks away from the Arkansas Judiciary website, and anyone can view thousands of individuals’ sensitive information.