Moratorium Sought For Online Access To Florida Court Documents

A committee of lawyers, judges, and court officials has recommended that the Florida Supreme Court place a moratorium on public Internet access to certain court documents "until policies are developed that appropriately balance privacy with access."



Certain Florida court documents may no longer be available online if a committee of lawyers, judges and court officials has its way. The group recommended that the Florida Supreme Court place a moratorium on public Internet access to court documents that could be scanned online in their entirety. Basic docket and case information, including attorneys of record and fines collected, weren't part of the suggested moratorium.

The committee wants to place online access on hold "until policies are developed that appropriately balance privacy with access," according to the report. To date, a lack of such policies has led to numerous inconsistencies within Florida's court system. County court clerks choose which records are available online, which means that documents from domestic relations cases are online in Manatee County, Fla., but aren't in Sarasota County.

The courts now must grapple with ways to avoid deleting essential information from public records, as well as preventing sensitive information from being posted online. With the latter issue, there's ample cause for concern--detailed court files can contain information ranging from social security numbers to psychiatric histories.

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