Beginning in July, Dane County will implement a new policy to include names of property owners on the county’s AccessDane website. The policy was developed following a public hearing and input from the County Board and the county’s Land Information Office Committee.
While in the past property information posted on the website has not included names of owners, this information has been available in person at the county offices where the public record in maintained. Beginning the in mid-July, property owners names and addresses will be posted for public view on the AccessDane site.
In an effort to balance access to public information with citizen concern for privacy, individual property owners may request that their name not be published on AccessDane. Supervisor Kevin Kesterson, chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, believes it is critical that county residents realize they can opt out of name publication.
“I want to make sure county residents know that there is an option to remove their names from the AccessDane site before the website begins publishing names in mid-July,” Kesterson said. “I know that the issue of privacy is extremely important for people in certain professions, such as law enforcement, as well as for victims of domestic violence.”
The Dane County Land Information Office, which maintains the website, has developed a process for those who wish to remove their name from AccessDane. To receive a copy of the request form, call 266-4935 or print it directly from the AccessDane website (accessdane.co.dane.wi.us). Beginning the week of July 15th, requests must be made using an online process. Assistance with the online process will be provided at the City-County Building for those who do not have a computer with Internet access.
Dane County developed and maintains the “AccessDane” website to provide access to public land information records using the Internet. In their original form, as maintained in various county offices, public land records include the names of property owners and are available for inspection as required by the Wisconsin public records law. The AccessDane web site will continue to make this information available to public agencies and professional users who must have access to this information to conduct their duties. Access is provided only by entering into an agreement guiding the use of personally identifiable information found on the website. Commercial users pay a subscription fee to offset the cost of providing this service.
Last year, the Dane County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution stating that, as a general policy, the AccessDane web site should not block access to names of property owners. The County’s Information Resources Management Committee subsequently allowed for an opt-out policy for those concerned about privacy or personal safety.
“As a society, we must grapple with the complex issue of how to provide electronic access to public records while balancing privacy issues. I believe Dane County is on the right path by freely providing access to information which is already open to the public in paper form, while allowing people to protect their privacy on the Internet if they so choose,” noted Supervisor Judy Wilcox, a member of the County Board’s Information Resources Management Committee.
For more information, contact the Dane County Land Information Office or go to the AccessDane website at accessdane.co.dane.wi.us.