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This email was sent on March 2, 2005 to Del. Terry Kilgore and several other Delegates. To date I have NOT heard back from him or any other person (including my own Delegate Frank Hargrove, Sr.) who received this email. The list of who this email went to is found after the full content of the email.
Here is exactly how the email looked. It IS worth reading. I put this "note" below at the top of the email...
NOTE: I have put much thoughtfulness - and time - into this email and I hope all will read it. It is about "online" Clerks' records...
Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Delegate Kilgore (and others who I have copied in on this):
When I spoke to you that day about three weeks ago in the hallway outside the Senate Courts of Justice committee about your and your brother's SSNs on that Credit Line Deed of Trust going back online by 7/1/2006, you thought the Clerks were REDACTING out the 6 elements listed in Paragraph A of Delegate Nixon's HB 2426 in 2003 which became COV 2.2-3808.2...I hope you understand that you are wrong. Here's the link to read how the bill ended up:
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?031+ful+CHAP0988 This is the version that the Governor signed. Here's the paragraph that "gutted" the whole bill:
D. This section shall not apply to the following:
1. Providing remote access to any document by means of a network or system that is certified by the Department of Technology Planning to be secure and to provide for restricted access pursuant to security standards developed in consultation with the circuit court clerks, the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court, the Compensation Board, interested citizens, and users of land and other court records. Such standards shall include, but not be limited to, a requirement, as a precondition for access, for registration by users in person or by means of a notarized or otherwise sworn application that establishes the prospective user's identity, business or residence address, and citizenship status;
Do you see now that the bill means once again yours and your brother's SSNs will be back online just like everyone else's in Scott County AND every other county in VA? Every Clerk in this state will be claiming to have a "secure" website but we all know with the hackings into Univ. of Texas, GA Institute of Tech, George Mason, TriCare West, etc.that there is no such thing as a "secure" website.
I'd like to make some suggestions about how to fix this online records mess although you're going to meet with a ton of opposition from VCOG and the VPA since they are pushing this reckless, dangerous, idiotic idea - and the CLERKS themselves are pushing for it thru their lobbyist Chip Dicks (who by the way told me his divorce papers are also "sealed" while everyone I got off the Clerk's site in Scott back in 2002 obviously were not). Every final divorce decree was for women who took back their maiden names hence the final decree became a "name change"document which makes it a "land record."
Suggestion #1: By the addition of that Paragraph D1 in 2003, the bill was gutted and made totally worthless. I call it the Pay-per-view scheme since to get into a site the Clerks have to claim they have a "secure" website and then anyone who wants in has only to sign some stupid application (which BTW can be only just so restrictive but at least has a clause where the applicant cannot share his password). They have to have "remote" access on or before 7/1/2006 to the records thanks to the passage of bills dealing with the Technology Trust Fund (COV 17.1-279). IF IF IF they took the TTF money and all of them have taken it, then a requirement to have remote access has to be met. So my suggestion #1 is to do away with the requirement of "remote access" in 17.1-279 - put in a bill that allows the Clerks to keep the money and remove the "remote" access requirement.
In COV 17.1-225 it says: § 17.1-225. Remote access to nonconfidential court records. The clerk of the circuit court of any county or city may provide remote access, including Internet access, to all nonconfidential court records maintained by his office and described in § 17.1-242. The clerk shall be responsible for insuring that proper security measures are implemented and maintained to prevent remote access users from obtaining any data that are confidential under this Code and to prevent the modification or destruction of any records by remote access users. For purposes of this section, remote access users are those individuals who are not employees of the clerk's office.
See that last line I've made red? Remote Access can be just in a Clerk's office but Clerks don't "get it". But if you remove the requirement of "remote access" then they won't have to have them available in someone's home...
Suggestion #2: Once these documents are scanned there will have to be legislation stopping the "BULK" sale of those records held by the Clerks. Why? Because once they are bought in bulk (like the ones the Executive Secretary of the VA Supreme Court is selling to ANYONE who wants to buy a tape, then any other company can put them online or in the case of the recent ChoicePoint scandal, this is where they are getting the info they sell. Just last week, we all heard about Bank of America losing tapes containing records for even Senators! If the bulk sale of the records is halted, the citizens of this state will be much safer although just having those images available in a Clerk's office means they are on a website somewhere....that's how they get on the Clerk's computers. Whether it's AmCad or Business Information Systems (Scott County's provider) the records are at risk of being hacked into. And now with all the programs to steal key strokes and get into someone's computer on the sly from down the street in the case of Wi-Fi, then it's not really safe to have all those SSNs etc. available via remote access. I know for a fact in King William County that in the contract with Business Information Systems (BIS) of Tennessee that two glaring lines were in the contract - a) that if any disputes came up they'd be settled under Tennessee law which violates the VA Public Procurement Act and b) that in the KW contract BIS was allowed to have a copy of the records to use as they saw fit. And they saw fit to SELL them!!!! I'll bet the same clauses are in the Scott County contract and also in every other Clerk's contract with their provider. A man who is heading up a group to stop online access in Texas has found out that there was a catastrophic failure in their remote system and all records were lost. To replace them, the provider wanted a $1 per document to get them back online. I can put you in touch with the Clerk that happened to in Texas and the man who is trying to stop it there. Also about BULK sales....a company from Houston bought all the records from several counties in Calif (ie. LA County and Ventura for example) and they are now selling them online from a company in HOUSTON, TX. The company bought the records in bulk and then they put them online. We do not need that to happen here in VA....
Suggestion #3. Remove Paragraph D1 from COV 2.2-3808.2. Since we all know more and more sites are being hacked into and that there is no such thing as a secure website, then remove that paragraph. It is a worthless, useless, non-protecting paragraph. Sure the press wants to be able to sit in their offices and do their research, but they should do what I do and drive to the courthouse. And these really aren't for the most part "gov't" records - they are our personal records which were put there for protection. And a Final divorce decree is between two people to end their marriage. Of course the Federal tax liens have the first person's SSN listed on the lien and that is a "land record," too. In VA if someone owes back taxes, back child support, traffic fines, or back student loans, Virginia puts the DOB AND SSN on those. It is astounding!
Suggestion #4: In Florida the citizens have the right to have certain docs/information removed off the internet sites. And they have the right to have their SSNs removed also. Here is one link to the laws about that. http://www.clerk-alachua-fl.org/clerk/PRENotices.html Those notices are on the Alachua County Clerk's site but are also found on others in Florida. The only problem is the people don't even know to ask to have those items removed because they don't know the records are online!!! See what I did with Jeb Bush's document on my website. He found out thru an acquaintance of mine who is a White House liaison that I was gong to "link" to the Miami-Dade site to show his record which contained their SSNs and after he was told the SSNs were there he had his and his wife's SSNs blacked out on the internet site. But he left everyone else's exposed! He realized his was in danger, but I guess he didn't "get it" that everyone else's was exposed and at risk, too, for anyone in the world to see. So I printed the record anyway with their SSNs showing and wrote an open letter to him! I also link to Porter Goss' and wife's SSNs in two documents in Lee County Fl and I printed Colin Powell's out of Fairfax County. But for $25 a month ANYONE can sign up and get into Fairfax's records....Frey has over 1,100 subscribers who can sit their 24/7 and find the SSNs if they want to. It's easy once you find one set of mortgage papers, then just do an adverse search and find everyone that lender did. That's how in Scott County I came up with everyone who got a loan thru New People's Bank. I have everyone's SSN who borrowed $$$ from them since New People's put the SSNs on every loan they did! And not just on the front page but on the notary's section!
I know that a lot of Virginia Clerks don't want to go online with these records but they feel they have no voice. It seems that the Clerks Association is run by a few Clerks and some feel they have no voice. So I am asking you to consider what I have written and I hope that everyone will understand now that the people of this state are at risk (in the 12 counties now online) or soon will be when they are forced to go online or in the case of Scott...back online.
Should you have questions, please email me or call me. I'd love to take you on a virtual "tour" of sites already online in other states that I have personally been into and show you how easy it to find tons of SSNs. I have taken several reporters on my tour and they are shocked, needless to say, when I'm through. I will offer this "virtual tour" to anyone who has fast internet connection since we have to be able to pull up the records and move to the next one. I just took a magazine reporter on my "tour" and she was shocked at what I showed her...
Thank you for reading this and I hope to have a thoughtful response back from you about this. (Or any of you.)
Also I have links on my site for any of you who did not get to see me on CBS Evening News on Feb 18th or the CBS Early Morning Show (Private Info for all the world to see...) or for those who missed the Virginian Pilot article (She knows all about you and you and you)
Betty "BJ" Ostergren
The Virginia Watchdog
Two emails were sent...The first went to this group...but not one person responded!
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The same email went to this second group...but no one responded!
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(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)