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When public records become an invasion of privacy

I was only half-watching the news last night, but I have to tell you - the smug, smiling Patrick groupie explaining why it's just groovy that DevalPatrick.com lets you look up the address of pretty much every single Massachusetts resident of voting age really, really bugged me.

Kid, go spend some time with some domestic-abuse victims (as Channel 5's Janet Wu obviously did, because she typed in the name of one and found where she now lived), then come back with that perky smile of yours.

Yes, technically, voter information is public. In fact, a quaint Massachusetts law requires cities and towns to compile annual residents' lists that state the birthday, address and occupation of all adults (back in cub-reporting days, I did a story on a Natick woman who had listed her occupation as "JAP" - because she was Jewish and loved to shop). But that doesn't explain the furshlugginer registration system on the site (which instead of just asking for you to type in your name, gives you a lookup system) - or why this woman seemed to be so cavalier with the idea that there might be unintended consequences to making such information so readily available.

Dan Kennedy has more lucid comments.

Sco discusses the sloppy programming behind the login form.

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