In an attempt t make more government documents accessible to the browsing public, Google has partnered with four states to help make tens of thousands of public records searchable.
Google has partnered with four states — Arizona, California, Utah and Virginia — to remove technical barriers that had prevented Google, Microsoft and Yahoo from accessing public records dealing with education, real estate, health care and the environment.
From the AP:
“Despite the obvious benefits of this Google initiative for those conducting Web searches, privacy advocates said they are worried about unintended consequences, cautioning that some records may contain personal and confidential information that should not be widely available.Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, said many public health and financial records shouldn’t necessarily be widely available because they often contain citizens’ Social Security numbers. Such information should be redacted from records regardless of whether they’re viewed online or in person at a government office, he said.Rotenberg also said Google has a “checkered past” on privacy, noting that the company tracks Internet search users who access government data in order to target ads at them. EPIC recently filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission urging it to investigate Google regarding such activities, as well as its proposed acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick Inc.“