Privacy Concerns Misplaced Over Google's Effort To Help Governments Make Public Records More Accessible
from the who's-to-blame-here dept
Google is getting some press coverage for helping (at no cost) various state governments to put public records online and make them searchable. This seems to fit with Google’s overall mission of making the world’s information available. It’s also noteworthy that Google isn’t holding onto control of the content either — meaning that other search engines are equally able to index the content. However, where the story is most interesting is that certain privacy advocates are complaining about this effort, while also taking side swipes at Google’s own privacy efforts. This seems entirely misplaced. The documents that we’re talking about here are public documents — meaning they were already available to the public. All Google has done is improved the accessibility of those documents. In fact, one thing this might do is make people a lot more aware of what private info their local governments have incorrectly exposed. This should help people to better protect their privacy. While one state official complains that all state agencies now need to run around removing things like Social Security Numbers and other private info from these documents, a bigger question is why that information was already available on public documents? It’s not Google to blame here for making it easier to access these public records, but the state agencies who simply assumed that they could leave the private info on those documents just because they were difficult (but not impossible) to access.