Texas sides with company seeking land records via USB

Jared James reports:

An attorney general ruling that the Hidalgo County Clerk’s Office must provide access to the county’s database of electronic land records using a computer’s USB port is a major open records victory for Texas, an open government advocate said.

The Texas attorney general’s ruling capped a yearlong attempt by Houston-based Integrity Title Records to receive an electronic copy of the county’s index of title records, digital copies of each record and the maps, or plats. But the clerk’s office had refused to provide access to the records using a USB port, which Integrity could use to copy the 750 gigabytes of data onto an external storage device, said Marian Cones, a vice president for the company.

[…]

But she said her office’s intent wasn’t to fight the state’s Open Records Act as much as protect the county’s database. Many of the older title records that are included in the database include social security numbers that can be used to commit fraud and identity theft, she said. Permitting complete access to the database would allow private third-parties to pay for access to personal identifying information through bulk sales.

Read more in the Houston Chronicle.  If  SSN are included in the database, those records are still subject to the Open Records Act even if the request was made for paper copies of copies on CDs.   If the county is so concerned about ID theft, speed up the redaction process.

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