U.S. federal law provides for the public to be able to access information kept with different government agencies with the motto of open government. It recognizes a citizen’s right to know the affairs of the government. With the exception of certain information that can compromise the safety and good name of an individual or compromise the proceedings of a trial, information secrecy of which is essential to the security and defense of the nation and some other information related to the activities of some government agencies all information processed and maintained by the government is made available to the public for scrutiny and copy. Federal Law provides this under the FOIA or Freedom of Information Act. Under the FOIA the public records or any record regarding an individual that has been processed by a local, district, federal or any government agency is to be made available to the public. However every state has its own law governed by its constitution that regulates the degree to which public records can be accessed. Public records often need to be accessed for a variety of reasons. A school may want to check the records of people for child abuses or criminal backgrounds or the driving records of a driver before employing them for the sake of the safety and well being of kids. Public records are also the best resources available for protecting identity theft. It can also be used to track any government aid that is directed to individuals. If you are moving into a new neighborhood then you can use the public records to run a scrutiny on the neighborhood.
As stated before each state has its own version of the FOIA which is in accordance to its constitution. For example Colorado has the Colorado Open Records Act and New Jersey has the Open Public Records Act. The state of New York follows a very open policy regarding the availability of public records and is managed by the Committee on Open Government. Different government agencies are made responsible for providing information to the public. On the other hand public records in Pennsylvania are kept fairly closed. Pennsylvanian law requires an individual to provide a justifiable reason in order to access the public records.
Previously the records were typed and manually stored in files which had to be retrieved upon a written application or a verbal request made in person. This made the process of retrieval of information slow. With the advent of electronic data processing and the internet the process of storing and retrieving public records has changed drastically. The records are now stored electronically and can be retrieved via the internet. Most departments and states provide for an electronic retrieval of public records.
Under the sections 6250 and 6253 of the California Public Records Act or CPRA public records are freely available to the general public. Our site offers an extensive database and millions of profiles. Our search engine is able to pinpoint your search and direct you to the relevant result.
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