Since September 2010, I’ve been following a case involving a man who sued the village of Palatine, Illinois in federal court for disclosing too much personal information on a summons left on his windshield. His complaint was based on the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). In August 2011, a federal court upheld the village’s actions. The plaintiff appealed, and when the appeals court affirmed the district court ruling, he requested re-hearing en banc. The full panel agreed with him. In September 2012, a judge refused to stay their decision.
That Illinois case and the Seventh Circuit’s ruling has had some interesting effects in Wisconsin, it seems. Eric Litke reports:
Police work that has traditionally been conducted in public view is increasingly being shielded, as insurance companies and municipal attorneys throughout Wisconsin push departments to withhold names from reports due to liability concerns.
A long-ignored federal privacy law is driving the redactions, interpreted by some municipal leaders to overrule a state public records law that says the full reports should be released.
With a growing number of departments redacting crash reports — and, in some cases, all incident reports — drivers injured in crashes may have no right to the identity of the other motorist, and communities can be kept in the dark about who police are arresting.
Read more on Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.