We've been excited to see what would happen with the RECAP Firefox extension
, which is being used to help free up public domain court documents that have been locked up behind the PACER paywall. However, there were also questions about how the folks who run and/or benefit from PACER would react. We now have at least part of the answer: bogus scare tactics. Paul Alan Levy
alerts us to the fact that the Federal Court system, which profits from PACER, has started sending out scare notices to try to keep lawyers from using RECAP
The court would like to make CM/ECF filers aware of certain security concerns relating to a software application or "plug-in" called RECAP, which was designed to enable the sharing of court documents on the Internet.
Once a user loads RECAP, documents that he or she subsequently accesses via PACER are automatically sent to a public Internet repository. Other RECAP/PACER users are then able to see whether documents are available from the Internet repository. At this time, RECAP does not appear to provide users with access to restricted or sealed documents.
Please be aware that RECAP is "open-source" software, which means it can be freely obtained by anyone with Internet access and could possibly be modified for benign or malicious purposes. This raises the possibility that the software could be used for facilitating unauthorized access to restricted or sealed documents. Accordingly, CM/ECF filers are reminded to be diligent about their computer security and document redaction practices to ensure that documents and sensitive information are not inadvertently shared or compromised.
The court and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts will continue to analyze the implications of RECAP or related-software and advise you of any ongoing or further concerns.
I especially like the "scare quotes" around "open-source." Of course, I'm not quite sure why the fact that the extension is open source makes it any more vulnerable to being "modified for benign or malicious purposes." Either way, looks like the Federal Courts don't like competition eating away at their PACER profits.