Privacy Redaction Legislation Affects the Official Public Record

The Voice • January 2020

The standard goal of redaction is to protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of land-owners from the Official Public Record.
In recent years, some states have passed legislation to “hide” documents, within the Official Public Record, of those individuals who feel threatened for various reasons. In these cases, the entire document is hidden, however stipulations exist for viewing should the need arise as it pertains to the buying and selling of real estate.

More recently, some states have taken redaction legislation to the next level where it is required to redact details of documents including names, legal descriptions, and parcel numbers from within the recorded image. In these cases, no stipulations have been made for viewing the redacted information. Where these conditions exist, the work of title professionals is made extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible. It has been reported that qualified buyers have been turned down for mortgages due to the fact that the title company cannot view required information within the document image and thus cannot issue title insurance.

One of the cornerstones of our economy and wealth is the exchange of property from person to person and the public land record is beyond critical to this process. Redacting entire sections of the public record of a citizen or piece of real estate prevents the access necessary to combat fraud and can make it excessively difficult to provide constructive feedback regarding your property. When handled improperly, redaction can provide a false sense of security to those affected and can halt real estate sales in their tracks.

The American Land Title Association, or ALTA, has put together a white sheet covering the topic of privacy redaction, highlighting many of the concerns made evident by these practices and suggesting better ways to possibly approach the issue moving forward. The impact these redaction practices can have on the land records world is significant and all land records officials should be aware of this continuing situation. Legislation in support of the practice is moving forward in multiple states, including Minnesota, where the Safe at Home legislation is already in effect, and Florida.

Alliant National, Title Insurance Company, has put together a 32-minute webinar covering the topic. Click HERE to view it.

We encourage you to read ALTA’s white sheet by clicking HERE to download your own copy.