Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Texas AG issues order, screws up

What, you've never heard of an Attorney General messing up? Well Greg Abbot pulled a fast one last week and brought Texas Courthouses to an almost complete standstill. This may be one for the history books. Have there been any other decisions that brought everything to a standstill like this? Okay, there probably have.

District and county clerks from across the Brazos Valley hovered in a state of chaos for the second day in a row Tuesday as elected officials scrambled to protect them from possible arrest if they're unable to comply with an old law that has new implications.

Clerks in the Brazos Valley, just like those from every other Texas county, have been in a frenzy for several days following the release of a legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott that requires Social Security numbers to be removed from open records before the documents can be made public.

The law on which the opinion was based is designed to protect Texans' personal information from identity theft.

The issue is privacy. The AG issued a new opinion on an old law that is already in effect stating now that absolutely no documents should be made public with social security information on them. Currently, the clerks offer that as an option to customers. Well, absolutely no document includes a lot of documents. A lot of documents. This order he made would require every single document that is filed to be re-examined and a duplicate copy made available to the public with the privacy information redacted.

But today the AG suspended that order with a 60-day reprive to analyze the effect. Oh yeah, I can personally tell Mr. Abbott how difficult is it to continue a courtcase when you can't get copies of the files you need.

I don't think the real issue is privacy. I think the real problem is that credit agencies are willing to sign over thousands of dollars in credit and product to people without proper proof of identification. They are also too willing to just ignore the problem and eat the cost of theft as a "just doing business" expense. Then they pass these costs onto their good consumers and you and I wind up eating it. Stop the problem there and then we won't have to pay millions to re-do our state's county and district clerks.

Order that paralyzed clerks' offices suspended
Brazos Valley adjusts to AG opinion

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