THE VIRGINIA WATCHDOG
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UPDATE 9/27/07 : VA legislators passed two bills this session which will require ALL Clerks of Circuit Courts to put records they hold (see below for types) online by July 1, 2008. Both bills had language in them which would have given them though until July 1, 2010 to remove ONLY the SSNs, but that requirement was KILLED because NO APPROPRIATION was made for redaction of SSNs during the 2007 session. So now records will be available via remote access with people's SSNs on them since there is no law mandating removal. The public has been duped. Here are the two bills - HB 2062 (See 03/07/07 Fiscal Impact statement #8) & SB 824 (See 03/07/07 Fiscal Impact statement #8). Why did the Patrons of these two bills allow this to happen?
There was also another bill going thru the legislature that would have allowed ONLY law enforcement officers, their spouses, and children to get their records off a Circuit Court Clerk's remote access website. But the bill was trashed and made worthless, so those folks will have their records online, too, showing their addresses, signatures, SSNs (if on a record), minor children's names, DOBs, and financial account numbers. Read how that bill started out on 1/07/07 (read paragraph "F") ... and here's how it ended up - totally trashed . Gov. Tim Kaine signed this gutted bill into law which was passed by the 2007 VA General Assembly.
THE ISSUE: THE VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE HAS VOTED IN PAST YEARS TO ALLOW OUR PERSONAL - BUT PUBLIC - RECORDS THAT ARE RECORDED IN THE CIRCUIT COURT CLERKS' OFFICES TO BE ACCESSED OVER THE INTERNET.
RECORDS LIKE... FINAL DIVORCE DECREES / NAME CHANGE DOCUMENTS, ALL TYPES OF DEEDS, DEEDS OF TRUST (MORTGAGE PAPERS), CREDIT LINE DEEDS OF TRUST, WILLS, LISTS OF HEIRS, LISTS OF INVENTORIES OF ESTATES (ALL PROBATE).
ALSO TAX LIENS (STATE AND FEDERAL), CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT LIENS, STUDENT LOAN LIENS, JUDGMENTS (LIKE FOR TRAFFIC FINES, ETC.), UCCS (FINANCING STATEMENTS), POWERS OF ATTORNEY, GUARDIANSHIP PAPERS, COURT ORDERS, AND MARRIAGE LICENSES.
THE CLERKS CALL ALL THOSE RECORDS “LAND RECORDS” AND THE REASON THEY ARE CALLED THAT IS BECAUSE THEY RELATE TO TITLE OF LAND IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. HOWEVER, SIX ITEMS IN THOSE RECORDS THAT SHOULD NOT BE AVAILABLE ONLINE ON A HOME COMPUTER - BUT ALREADY ARE IN SOME COUNTIES/CITIES (OR WILL BE BY JULY 1, 2008) -ARE: SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS, MINOR CHILDREN’S NAMES, MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAMEs, DATE OF BIRTH, SIGNATURES, AND/OR FINANCIAL ACCOUNT/LOAN NUMBERS.
OUR RECORDS WERE FILED IN THE CLERK’S OFFICE FOR “SAFE-KEEPING” BUT IT TURNS OUT THE “IMAGES” OF THOSE RECORDS WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLINE TO “ANYONE” WHO WANTS TO GET TO THEM 24/7. (NOTE: SEE IMPORTANT 4/21/07 UPDATE BELOW.)
IN 84 VIRGINIA LOCALITIES THE CLERKS ARE ALREADY ONLINE AND IT’S A SAFE BET THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE CITIZENS IN THOSE COUNTIES/CITIES DON’T EVEN KNOW IT. (UPDATE 4/20/07 - LAST MONTH THE STATE COMPENSATION BOARD TOOK BACK OVER $50,000 GIVEN TO THE CIRCUIT COURT CLERK IN CHARLOTTESVILLE BECAUSE HE DECEIVED THEM WHEN APPLYING FOR MONEY FROM THE TECHNOLOGY TRUST FUND. SO ONLY 58 VA CIRCUIT COURT CLERKS HAVE REMOTE ACCESS TO THE RECORDS THEY HOLD.)
HERE'S THE CODE OF VIRGINIA REGARDING "POSTING CERTAIN INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET." BE SURE TO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO PARAGRAPH E (1) WHICH STATES THAT IF THE CLERKS PROVIDE "SECURE REMOTE ACCESS" TO THE RECORDS, THEN PARAGRAPH B DOESN'T APPLY ABOUT PROTECTING ALL THAT PERSONAL INFO MENTIONED THERE. (NOTE: THAT LAW CAME ABOUT IN THE 2OO3 SESSION, BUT THE CODE SECTION'S NUMBER WAS CHANGED IN 2007 FROM 2.2-3808.2 TO 17.1-293)
SO IN VA “ANYONE” CAN (AND WILL BE ABLE TO) GET INTO THOSE RECORDS IF THEY MERELY SIGN UP, PAY A FEE AND GET A PASSWORD, BUT SHOULD “ANYONE” BE ABLE TO SIT IN HIS/HER HOME AND READ PEOPLE’S FINAL DIVORCE DECREES AND FIND OUT WHO GETS THE KIDS, WHO GETS THE CAR, WHAT CHILD SUPPORT IS, OR WHERE VISITATION IS AND GET THE PARENTS’ SSNs? HOW ABOUT YOUR SIGNATURE? SHOULD “ANYONE” FROM THE PRIVACY OF HIS HOME/OFFICE BE ABLE TO “CAPTURE” THE IMAGE OF YOUR SIGNATURE?
HERE'S HOW THIS "PAY PER VIEW/SIGN UP" MESS CAME ABOUT IN 2003...CLICK HERE.
IF SOMEONE WANTS TO SEE THE RECORDS THAT WERE FILED IN THE CIRCUIT COURT CLERK'S OFFICE FOR SAFE KEEPING, THEY SHOULD HAVE TO DRIVE TO THE COURTHOUSE TO LOOK AT THEM WHEN THE CLERK’S OFFICE IS OPEN – NOT SIT IN THEIR HOME WITH FRIENDS AND GET INTO THE RECORDS 24/7.
WHAT IS TO PREVENT SOMEONE FROM SHARING THEIR PASSWORD? NOTHING!!! WHAT IS TO PREVENT SOMEONE OR SEVERAL PEOPLE FROM USING SOMEONE ELSE'S COMPUTER? NOTHING!!! WE DON’T HAVE HOME COMPUTER POLICE.
AND WHAT WILL PREVENT SOMEONE FROM "HACKING" INTO A CLERK'S SITE? NOTHING. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SECURE WEBSITE...
A CLERK TAKES AN OATH TO PROTECT THOSE RECORDS BUT ONCE “ANYONE” ACCESSES THEM FROM THE PRIVACY OF THEIR HOME/OFFICE, THEY CAN MAKE AS MANY COPIES AS THEY WANT AND DO ANYTHING WITH THOSE COPIES. AND MOST PEOPLE WILL NOT TAKE OFF FROM WORK TO GO TO A CLERK’S OFFICE.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO STAY ALERT TO THIS “LAND RECORDS” ISSUE BECAUSE IT’S CERTAIN OUR LEGISLATORS AREN’T WATCHING OUT FOR US. THE CLERKS NOW WILL BE ONLINE BY JULY 1, 2008 BUT MORE ARE GOING ON BEFORE THEN. WHAT HAS YOUR CLERK DONE? DO THEY HAVE ONLINE ACCESS TO THE IMAGES OF THE RECORDS THEY HOLD?
LET YOUR LEGISLATOR HEAR FROM YOU. TELL HIM TO KEEP OUR RECORDS OFF THE INTERNET. SPREAD THE WORD. TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND GET THEM TO WRITE OR CALL THEIR DELEGATE AND SENATOR TODAY. THESE RECORDS SHOULD ONLY BE AVAILABLE AT THE COURTHOUSE.
HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF RECORDS THAT ARE ONLINE ALREADY...