privacy. While criminal history records probably shouldn't be floating around on the Internet, to the extent those records are public, what legitimate privacy concern does an individual have? But technology threatens to spew out DMV, voting, property and all kinds of other public records in a haphazard way that may make perfectly good access sense but may be a privacy disaster.

Unfettered access may not be the right conclusion, but neither is closing these records to public access solely because they could be misused or be embarrassing. We need a serious debate over the balance between these two issues and a determination of which one will become the default position. Without that debate, policy will continue to be made on an unsatisfying and unsatisfactory ad hoc basis.

Harry Hammitt is editor/publisher of Access Reports, a newsletter published in Lynchburg, Va., covering open government laws and information policy issues. E-mail: <>.

February Table of Contents

Harry Hammitt  |  Contributing Writer