A county in Colorado published sensitive information, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, online for months. And it wasn’t by mistake, either.
When first approached about the sensitive information online by Denver7, Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers argued that it was her job to make the public record more accessible.
Even though the software used for the online portal, called Easy Access, included redaction features, Myers opted not to protect sensitive documents like child support liens, death certificates and commercial lending filings uploaded to it as other county clerks around the state had.
Why might you ask?
“Because the law does not require me to do so and I don’t make those calls about the content of the documents and I don’t manipulate public record,” she told Denver7 news, who launched an investigation after being alerted by a concerned resident affected by the open records.
At first, Myers seemed unwilling to make any changes but after Denver7 contacted Larimer County Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Lew Gaiter outside a public meeting in Denver last week, the portal was soon taken down. The television journalist handed Gaiter a printout he’d accessed from the Larimer County portal that detailed Gaiter’s personally identifiable information, including his Social Security number.
“It absolutely is concerning to me that we’re exposing private information that can be used for identity theft,” he said.
He supported the idea of redacting sensitive information from the online version of records recorded with the county.
As of May 5, the sensitive records were no longer online, though you can register for the site and search just to be sure. Regardless, “the risk could remain for the people whose identities were exposed,” according to the Denver7 story.
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