A Public Policy of Open Government

Moehring has used the Hamilton County court's Web site to check out potential employees.

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He has even turned away a few because of what he found. But someone used the site to get Mr.

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Moehring said. The information is way too accessible. Though officials knew records would be made more available, "there was an underestimation of the impact that was going to have on the individuals whose documents now were online," said John Bessey, a Franklin County judge and chairman of the Ohio Supreme Court's technology committee.

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The federal court system decided last year that documents in civil and bankruptcy cases, but not criminal cases, should be available electronically without personal information like Social Security numbers, birth dates and names of minors. The Florida Supreme Court is considering a moratorium on online court records while lawmakers review a Florida law that requires courts to post by scanned images of all official records. But some fear lawmakers might use the Internet as an excuse to deny the public access to information off-line.

The better solution, he said, would be to limit the amount of personal information that many public documents require. Randal Bloch, a divorce lawyer in Cincinnati, often hears complaints about privacy from her female clients.

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Most are concerned, Ms. Bloch said, that criminals may surf the Web for names and ages of children, their addresses and the layouts of their houses. A similar public records search is for gravesite records.

Websites like Find A Grave provide millions of memorials you can search through to confirm a death record, and many even have photos of the gravesite for extra proof. Most if not all birth certificates aren't public information, but there are ways to search for birth record information online for free through other public records. For example, a genealogy website often includes birth details such as when and where people were born, who their parents are, whether they were adopted, etc.

Local newspaper sites are another solid way to search public birth records.

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Not everyone releases a birth announcement, but some people do. To order your official birth certificate, you can use a service like VitalCheck. Family trees are online listings of how people are related within a family, so they're a great public record of who's married to whom, whether someone has passed away, how many children someone has, and maybe even where people are currently living.

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If you still can't find the public records you're searching for, consider using a regular web search engine like Google or Bing. They serve as excellent general search tools that can look across lots of websites at once instead of the specific ones listed above. Share Pin Email.

Public records - Wikipedia

He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. Updated September 25, How to Find Obituaries Online. How to Find Birth Records Online. How to Research Your Family. However, here are some other resources for finding public records:. Census Bureau.

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Records include details on population, housing, economics, and geography. Every agency that handles public information in the U. Veterans History Project is an example of a website that helps you find military records online.