Richard J. H. Varn, director of the Coalition for Sensible Public Records Access and the chief information officer for the City of San Antonio, spoke on the threats to and values of public access. Here's part two of the notes on his NFOIC 2009 Summit Session:
Values of public access:
- Identify verification and fraud prevention: Being able to verify facts such as birth date, address, etc. ensures that you don't wrongly identify someone. Secondary verifications rely on public records to prevent someone from representing themselves as you.
- Risk management and background screening.
- Public policy enforcement (Red Flag Rules): Before you're granted a bank account, the bank needs to verify that you are who you say you are. They largely draw from public records to find out multiple uses of the same address, multiple uses of a social security number and misuse of multiple birth records. Without access, banks are limited in preventing money laundering and theft.
- Life events: Owing a home, renting an apartment, buying a car, getting a job, dating, getting married, day care and senior care depend on access to records. You want to make sure the person watching your children or parents don't have issues, right?
- Person and business locations: Facebook doesn't always work in locating people.
- Workplace safety and vulnerable populations: Public records are used to perform background and credit checks on employees.
- Administration of justice: You can't find out facts without proper access to public records.
- Helping residents exercise their right to know.
- Targeted communications and marketing.
- Economic growth and democratization of opportunity: Small businesses rely on public records, which provide a cheap way to obtain market data, an analysis of the community or economy and list of potential customers.
- Market efficiency: Public records are used to forecast economic conditions and inventory systems.
- Public safety and law enforcement: Public records are investigative tools used to find suspects and witnesses.
- Customer service: A chemical company contains you because they know you have a pool. They saw it on Google Maps.
- Product safety and recalls: Public access helps companies find people who own things now considered unsafe.
- Due diligence and other legal duties.