A legislative committee is studying ways to protect citizens from identity theft while still providing public access to records and information. The issue drew attention after a land records website was found to have the social security numbers of the governor and many other people available on-line.
State Ombudsman, William Angrick, says is calling for the establishment of a permanent 17-member advisory committee to try to ensure the state’s open-records laws do not violate the privacy rights of citizens. Angrick says, "The issues and challenges we’re going to be facing today are not necessarily the ones that are going to be alive and before us tomorrow."
Angrick says the state has to adapt to changes in technology and the use of information. "I think it’s important that we have a process in which government can determine what types of protections, what types of openness we need to maintain," Angrick says. Iowa ranks near the bottom among states for the number of identity thefts, but Angrick says that doesn’t mean lawmakers shouldn’t take action.
Angrick says: "I think if it is not as big a problem, let’s make darn sure it doesn’t become bigger. I know we have had individuals whose privacy has been compromised in the state of Iowa. One is too many." Legislators want to update the state’s open-records laws to ensure private information, such as social security and credit card numbers, stay out of the reach of strangers surfing the net.