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Privacy Policy for Electronic Case Files

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Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure
On December 1, 2007, the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure that implement the E-Government Act of 2002 become effective. The amendment to Appellate Rule 25, and new Bankruptcy Rule 9037, Civil Rule 5.2, and Criminal Rule 49.1 require that personal identification information be redacted from documents filed with the court — Social Security and taxpayer identification numbers, names of minor children, financial account numbers, dates of birth, and, in criminal cases, home addresses. More information on the rules may be found here.

The Judicial Conference Policy on Privacy and Public Access to the Electronic Case Files
The Judicial Conference policy on privacy and public access to electronic case files has developed incrementally over the years. The policy has evolved to the point that it now provides for remote access to all electronic civil, bankruptcy, criminal, and appellate case files with appropriate privacy safeguards. The Conference continues to review its policy as the need arises and will seek public comment where appropriate.

  • March 2008 Revised Policy
    In March 2008, the Judicial Conference approved streamlining the policy on privacy and public access to electronic case files to eliminate provisions that are duplicative of the Rules of Practice and Procedure. The revised policy is available here. For research and information purposes, the former privacy policy, along with related information is available here.

  • Fall 2007 Request for Comment on Privacy and Security Implications of Public Access to Certain Electronic Criminal Case File Documents
    The most recent comment period, which ended on October 26, 2007, related to the privacy and security implications of providing electronic public access to certain documents in criminal case files. The Court Administration and Case Management Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States is studying these issues in order to develop policy guidance to the federal courts. Specifically, the Committee was interested in comments on a proposal to restrict public Internet access to plea agreements in criminal cases, which may contain information identifying defendants who are cooperating with law enforcement investigations. The comment period has closed, and the comments received may be reviewed here. After considering the issue, including the comments received, the Court Administration and Case Management Committee decided to not recommend that the Conference change the national policy at this time. Instead, it informed the district courts of the need to consider adopting local policies while emphasizing that such policies should be the least restrictive to promote legitimate public access. The Committee may revisit the issue of a national policy at a later date.