Public Information Act Lawyer
Remove your public information in Texas
Are you concerned about what people might be able to find out about you online? If so, a public information act attorney could help you get private and personal information about you removed.
In today’s ever-connected world, accessing information is easier than ever. Unfortunately, this means it can be harder for you to control what information about you is available to the public. More concerning is that people with bad intentions could potentially access sensitive information about you, including the address where you and your family live.
There are various laws that ensure the public can access government records. These laws were created with the best of intention: to help ensure the government transparency important to a democracy. But like all good intentions, these laws can be used by others to seek information for less than noble reasons. However, you are not powerless as a citizen. You can legally seek to remove information from being publically available.
In Texas, the rules and laws concerning the access of public information are governed by the Texas Public Information Act. This also allows you to request information and also have certain information removed from public access. It can be very difficult to navigate these complex laws on your own. The laws are written in a way that can seem vague and confusing to the average reader. If you have a concern about information being publically available, or would like to know what your legal options are regarding public information, it is best to consult an experienced attorney like Attorney Tom.
Attorney Tom proudly helps Texans like you navigate the complex maze of the legal system and fight for their rights. We believe you have a right to use the Public Information Act to help ensure your privacy and safety. Do not hesitate to reach out to us at (713) 244-6363 or online by using this form for a consolation on how we can help.
Let’s take a closer look at the Public Information Act and how it works.
What is the Public Information Act?
The Public Information Act (PIA) is a series of laws that allow citizens to access, view, and copy non-confidential government records. It is codified within the Texas Government Code in chapter 552. Generally, when a request for information is made the government body receiving the request must comply. However there are exceptions, and a governmental body may decline to release certain information. The governing body that oversees and reviews when information is withheld is the Open Records Division (ORD).
What are the rights of the requester?
As the law reads now, the person requesting the information does not have to specify why they are seeking the requested information. Furthermore, the government official or agency they are requesting information from cannot ask them why.
The requester may simply review the information, or they may request physical copies. There may be applicable charges, especially in cases where the requester is requesting hard copies of the information. When a request is made, the governmental body must respond within 10 business days of receiving the request.
What kind of information could someone obtain about me using the Public Information Act?
Texas defines public information as:
“Any information that is written, produced, collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business:”
By “official business” they mean any business conducted by or with a government body, government employee, or individual officer within a governmental body.
So, in plain English, what information is publically available? Unfortunately, the answer to this is complicated and not as straightforward as you would think. This because it depends on the particulars of your situation.
Factors that affect what information is publically available include: if you have conducted any business with the government, any activate government contracts, amount of property you own and the types of property owned, any criminal history, and other life circumstances such as marriage and divorce.
Some common examples of public information are:
- Voting records of public officials such as congressmen
- Marriage records
- Business documents, including articles of incorporation
- Voter registration status
- Criminal Justice records
- Licensing required to conduct certain business
- Death certificates
- Divorce records
- Tax statements
- Property ownership records
- Liens and foreclosures
What information is not public record?
There is some information that is never subject to being placed into public records. This information includes:
- Business information containing trade secrets
- School records such as transcripts
- Tax return (including tax return status and amount of tax return)
- Library records
- Files that have been previously sealed by court order
- Email addresses of private citizens
Your information does NOT have to be online
Neither Texas’s Public Information Act nor the federal Freedom Of information act, specify that information must be electronically accessible via the internet. Therefore you may request that certain information is removed from official government websites.
Reasons to remove information from public view
There are many reasons why a person would want his or her information removed from public view:
Safety: Sometimes concealing your information such as your psychical address is an unfortunate necessity. If you have a stalker or someone who wishes you harm, Attorney Tom can help protect you and your family from harassment by removing your public information from government websites and other places it may be publically available.
Protection against identity theft: Identity theft is one of the biggest and fastest-growing problems in modern times. Identity theft hackers are skilled at using little bits of information to obtain sensitive information. If you suspect or are, or may be a target of identity theft, you may want to consider removing any public information that could lead to identity thieves obtaining even more information about you.
Protection against Spam and predatory business: Some less than reputable businesses may access public information to sell your personal data to other businesses. They may take advantage of people experiencing financial hardship and may use the information for targeted scams. Or they may use this information to barrage someone with endless Spam and unsolicited offers.
General Privacy: You have a right to privacy and peace of mind. If you have any privacy concerns or simply value your privacy, consult with an attorney to see how to remove your information for public view.
Contact a Public Information Removal Attorney
The Public Information Act gives citizens the tools to access government records and was created to help increase government transparency. While it has good intentions, it may mean that information you don’t want public may be accessible. To find out how to remove information, such as your address, tax statement, divorce records, and other information from public online access, consult with Attorney Tom at (713) 244-6363 or contact us online here.