Evan Brown summarizes Doe v. Fankhauser, 2010 WL 4702295 (N.D. Ohio, November 30, 2010)
Plaintiff Jane Doe was the victim of physical and sexual abuse when she was a minor. In the criminal case against the perpetrator, Doe’s name was redacted, and she and her family were allegedly assured that her name would not be publicly disclosed. But someone in the county clerk’s website scanned some documents from the criminal case that had Doe’s name in them and posted those electronic documents on the county’s website, making them publicly available.
So Doe sued the county clerk for violation of Doe’s constitutional due process rights and for common law invasion of privacy. The clerk moved to dismiss. The court granted the motion.
The court found that the clerk was protected by judicial immunity.
Read more on Internet Cases.
Evan comments that the judge’s statement, “Where there is immunity, it applies even in the face of allegations of bad faith, malice, or reckless indifference.” doesn’t inspire public confidence in government watching out for our privacy.
Indeed, if you disincentivize people to be diligent in protecting privacy, then we should expect more mistakes and even intentional exposures.
Ironically, our government is screaming about WikiLeaks not redacting private information that could cause harm to individuals. Why aren’t they looking at their own employees and asking whether they should be held accountable, too, if harm accrues to individuals whose personally identifiable information was not adequately protected or redacted?