Redacting Social Security Numbers from Public Records
Frank Mand reports on Plymouth County’s efforts to redact Social Security Numbers from publicly available records starting with “Book 1989,” the first book of records in which SSN began to appear in real estate records.
The Registry is now up to Book 38,792 and – referencing documents in terms of their digital images – there are nearly nine million images that need to be reviewed and, if Social Security numbers are included, redacted.
It’s a job the Registry of Deeds will need a little extra help to finish.
It’s also a job the Registry is legally required to complete.
In 2009, the state passed the data protection law known as MGL 93H, which placed stringent requirements on businesses either requesting or in possession of customers’ personal data. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Deval Patrick issued an executive order that extended those requirements to state agencies.
Read more on Wicked Local Plymouth.
Other states are also trying to address the problem. A 2008 GAO report had reported that “In recent years, 25 states have enacted some form of statutory restriction on displaying SSNs in public records.” In May 2010, the National Council of State Legislatures reported that “In 2009, 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico introduced legislation regarding the use and regulation of Social Security numbers. Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico enacted legislation or passed resolutions regarding the use and regulation of Social Security numbers.” And in June 2010, NCSL reported that “In 2010, 26 states introduced legislation regarding the use and regulation of Social Security numbers. Ten states—Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin—enacted legislation or passed resolutions regarding the use and regulation of Social Security numbers.”
You can find summaries of the statutes with links to the full laws on NCSL’s site.