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Iowa County Acted Proactively to Protect its Residents

Reprinted with permission from

Jolynn Goodchild, the recorder for Plymouth County, Iowa, wants residents of her county to know that they were never exposed to the threat of identity theft. Prior to uploading her county's public record images to the Internet, Goodchild insisted that sensitive information, specifically Social Security numbers, be redacted from all of the land record documents that were digitized by her county. This includes all of the information that was uploaded on's site before access to its images was restricted earlier this month.

Goodchild took the initiative to redact the information in order to avoid possible cases of identity theft and act proactively on behalf of her county's residents.

"I decided to do this before I put stuff out there because I was concerned too for privacy purposes," Goodchild said in an interview with The Le Mars Daily Sentinel. She noted that the restricted access to the statewide information database has affected her office, though. "It affected us a lot. We're definitely getting more phone calls from people that want us to fax or e-mail (them) copies that they could get online before."

The site was shutdown after Governor Chet Culver contacted its operators and told them that he wanted access to people personal, sensitive information restricted. Many of the records on the site that were dated prior to 2002 contained Social Security numbers. Phil Dunshee, the project manager for the site, indicated that until all of the records have been cleansed and sensitive information has been redacted the images will remain offline.

However, Goodchild said that she and other recorders have been redacting this type of information from both older and newly submitted documents for quite some time. The original documents contain the information, but are housed in her office and not online for visitors to access.

"We had permission and authority that we could do that," Goodchild said.

To learn more, please read "Privacy Rights, Identity Theft Spark Increase in County Web Shutdowns"

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