All current and former military members can have their personal information protected beginning Oct. 1, but it will come at a cost to taxpayers.
A bill to protect their information was filed earlier this year after a group claiming to be affiliated with ISIS identified a number of U.S. military personnel. HB 185, which provides an exemption for the identification and location of service members and their families in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserve Forces and National Guard, was signed by Gov. Rick Scott in June, but it won’t be automatic.
Current and former military members who served after Sept. 11, 2001 must submit a written request to the governmental agency in which they want their information protected, according to www.flsenate.gov.
While there is large support of the bill, the logistics of such a sweeping measure concern some public information advocates.
“If all these (military) people’s home addresses are exempt, it’s going to be difficult for people like county clerks, property appraisers, tax collectors, the Superintendent of Elections and public utilities, especially in places like Northwest, Southwest and Southeast Florida, where there are lots of military people.”
Prior to HB 185, there was an exemption for military personnel serving in any special operations units, Petersen said, but the expansion will include all military veterans, active duty and their family members.
“They have to go in and delete that protected information,” Petersen said. “It’s going to be a nightmare in terms of tracking, and then redacting, which will cause delays because it’s a lot of work. And if it takes more time to review and redact and we have to turn to other agencies to assist, it’s going to cost the taxpayer.”
Pam Childers, clerk and comptroller of Escambia County, said it’s a lot work regardless of the bill whenever a change like this comes into play.
The Escambia County offices are in the midst of looking into an auto redact computer system that will catch information such as birthdays and bank account numbers, but Childers said they will still need people who can work diligently and deal with tedious tasks.
“We already have a long list of exemptions you have to remember and you’ve got to catch all of that stuff,” she said. “It takes a manual look at every page. So this (bill) may pose issues for us, but we’ll see how the public records come through and how it will impact us.”
Original article here.