THE COALITION FOR SENSIBLE PUBLIC RECORDS ACCESS
It is often said that we live in an information economy. The natural resource on which that economy depends is information and public records and commercial users of those records are a critical source. Public and private data is used in combination to equalize access to business opportunities, provide convenient and personalized customer service, increase markets and market efficiency, and manage and reduce risk. These uses contribute substantially to economic growth. Such use is so ubiquitous, it is easy to forget that good information leads to the decisions, marketing, and communications that help businesses get started or grow. Through equal and reasonable access and pricing for all users of public information, we achieve a greater democratization of opportunity that strengthens the vitality of our entrepreneurial and small business sectors. (Added May 2, 2013)
Policymakers and records managers in all levels and branches of government endeavor to fulfill public records requests with fidelity to the purpose and requirements of the law. Occasionally, some of these requests are seen as excessive and a solution is sought for dealing with such requests. CSPRA has developed the principles and framework below to assist those developing solutions to this problem. (Added Feb 28, 2013)
A functioning, market-based democracy is fueled by truth, depends on truth, and is best regulated by truth. Our democracy was founded on this principle. It was subsequently enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution and it is woven throughout our laws, culture, and economy. Truth has been one of the defining and historical differences that set the American experience apart, fueling our successes. When it has been ignored, we have experienced some of our most damaging and ignominious failures.
There is a very important principle to understand that applies directly to the discussion of the use of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and whether this information should be removed from public documents. This principle is neither controversial nor complicated and should be very easily grasped by almost anyone. The principle is: Identity information cannot be both public and secret.
Open access to public records serves many valuable purposes, ranging from providing the public with the information it needs to select and oversee the government to providing the critical infrastructure of our information economy.
See more whitepapers in the ARCHIVES
Testimony of Fred H. Cate before the New Jersey Privacy Study Commission, November 12, 2003.
Testimony of Fred H. Cate (PDF, 87K) before the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Committee on Banking and Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, July 20, 1999.
Background checks might be worth the price, by Rick Brundrett
Center for Missing Children Provided Link, by Patricia Davis and Josh White