Privacy Concerns Delay South Dakota Court Records Portal

South Dakota planned to deploy a website allowing its residents to view public court records from any computer. However, the website launch has been delayed due to vocalized privacy concerns.

by Arielle Zionts, Rapid City Journal / January 28, 2020
Shutterstock/piick

(TNS) — The launch of a website that will let South Dakotans view public court records from any computer has been delayed for more than a year due to privacy concerns.

The website originally planned to launch in late 2019 or early 2020 and would have allowed the public to view unsealed court documents for 10 cents per page from any computer at any time of the day. It's now estimated to go online in the summer of 2021, said Greg Sattizahn, administrator of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System (UJS).

In the meantime, people who need or want to view and print state court records will only be able to access them on the computers at state courthouses that are typically open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday. Federal court records can be viewed for a fee at any time through pacer.gov

Sattizahn said the website launch is delayed because UJS is still trying to find a service that will redact sensitive information in otherwise public documents.

"We do not have a vendor that is able to deliver the required redaction solution that has been proven to work on a statewide level," he said.

Sattizahn pointed to North Dakota's trouble launching a similar system on Jan. 1.

The program was taken down six days later because documents included information that was supposed to be redacted such as social security numbers, birth dates, minor's names and financial account numbers, according to a Jan. 7 article in the Bismark Tribune. Photos of graphic crime scenes were also uploaded, according to a Jan. 5 opinion piece at inforum.com.

The people filing the documents are responsible for redacting such information, the state court administrator told the Tribune.

"We do not want to risk doing the same with our customers' data," Sattizahn said.

Sensitive information is sometimes redacted before documents are uploaded to the public computers in South Dakota.

©2020 Rapid City Journal, S.D. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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