Thomas Kulaga says he doesn’t want information about his life and finances put on the Internet for all the world to see. The Palm Harbor business consultant, who has been a victim of identity theft, said he was dismayed when he learned of plans in Pinellas County to make mortgage documents more accessible online. So when he heard the Florida Supreme Court was studying the question of court records on the Internet, he didn’t hold back. “I am totally against making more information available online and, frankly, I think less information should be available,” Kulaga, 55, wrote in an e-mail to the high court’s Committee on Privacy & Court Records.
A year ago, the state Supreme Court ordered court clerks to stop posting court records on the Internet until a policy could be developed to safeguard privacy. Exceptions to the moratorium included documents that have been screened or are judged to be of “significant public interest.” The court created a 15-member panel of judges, attorneys, law professors and court clerks to tackle the thorny issue of balancing access and privacy in an Internet world. The court’s committee will hear its first public testimony Wednesday at the start of a two-day meeting in Tallahassee, reports the Associated Press. Florida has a tradition of public records dating back decades – and it was only strengthened a dozen years ago when voters added an open-government provision in the state Constitution. The state also has an explicit constitutional promise of privacy – it’s one of the few states in the country with such a clause.