Letter to County Tax Equalizer Director: You Do Not Have Permission to Post a Photo of Our Home on the Internet


              We do not give permission to the county of Grand Forks, to the state of North Dakota,  to any government entity, or official, to take a picture of our home and place it on the internet.


             We wholeheartedly support the concept of open public records in government.   However, as computer professionals, we are acutely aware of the positive and negative consequences of global access of records and databases.  Tax information kept in the courthouse and available to the public has a layer of privacy and security that is lost when information is placed on the internet and is globally accessible.  Not all of the millions of individuals on the internet have good intentions when accessing information.  This can range from just snooping to unsolicited marketing to criminal activity.


              Privacy concerns of the citizens of Grand Forks should be addressed, as well as public interests when placing property tax information on the internet.  Other counties have addressed these conflicting issues by only allowing searches by address, where the name of the property owner does not appear. 

             We, also, are concerned about the lack of notice and disclosure relative to the fact that pictures of homes, along with the name and address of the homeowner, are being placed on the internet.  We feel this violates one of the four basic Principles of Fair Information Practices -- that of notice. Each homeowner should be informed that a picture of his/her home is going to be placed on the internet.   In our opinion, the practice of placing pictures of homes identified with the homeowner's name and address on the internet should be completely abolished.  At the very least, it should be made voluntary, not mandatory.


           Sincerely yours,

            Jane and John Citizen
            Grand Forks, ND