Name Suppression From Online Property Applications

We were asked recently to "look into" suppressing names from Mecklenburg County's online property owner system. The request originated from the criminal justice ranks, the specific concern being that criminals might use the system to get address info for police, prosecutors, and judges, but not for sending thank you notes.

Just doing a survey (http://checkbox.co.mecklenburg.nc.us/NameSearchSuppression.survey) has kicked up some dust locally, so I'm interested in feedback from jurisdictions that may have dealt with this issue.

My personal opinion is name suppression is not an effective public safety tactic. It's like hacking your arm off because a mosquito has bitten it. You are going to be missing a limb, and still be bitten.

A quick story. A local U.S. Attorney's addressed Mecklenburg's County Commission on name suppression a couple of years ago. I happened to have my laptop, so out of curiousity, I...

- Googled his name,

- found where he got his law and undergrad degrees,

- went to alumi records,

- and not only got his current address, but phone number too.

Less than a half-dozen clicks.

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Profile Photo Joey White

White Pages alone can give you a fair amount of information on just about anyone, including address, phone number, and birthday. In a past job I had to try to find out as much as I could about people using a list that didn't have much more than their name, address, and phone number (or in some cases only one or two pieces of that information) and it was scary how quickly I could find what I wanted.

A crook looking to knock off a judge or a cop isn't going to stop because he can't find what he's looking for in property owner records or even Google. If he's really that motivated, he'll find a way to get the information.

There's still information online about me from college that relates to my political views and activity, not all of which I want everyone knowing without context, but you can't control the information out there and it's just not feasible to have all of that info removed.

Thanks for the post, Brian. It speaks to what a lot of us are still trying to figure out: what is privacy in the internet age?

Profile Photo Brian Cox

Joey, I need to update my post...for kicks I entered the name of our police chief in a Google search (a great guy by the way, I just disagree with him on this topic). I had his home address and a map in 3 steps. Also name of his wife and other members of the household at that address.