Texas AG Suspends Privacy Opinion for 60 Days

By  | 

Just as counties across the state were adjusting to a ruling regarding government records, a curve ball is thrown their way.

County officials are now getting a 60-day reprieve from having to redact Social Security numbers from all government records available to the public.

The decision came Wednesday from Attorney General Greg Abbott.

However, Brazos County has decided to continue removing social security numbers from documents before releasing them. The county clerk will ask Brazos County Commissioners on Tuesday for two temporary clerks to help with the additional workload, while the district clerk is going to try to handle the situation with the staff they have.

Last week, Abbott clarified a law that originally said officials "may" redact Social Security numbers from all copies of public documents and to ensure they're not available online.

Many officials interpreted the law, which is meant to protect the public from identity theft, as allowing them to redact the numbers -- but not requiring it.

Abbott's opinion said the law "required" the numbers be removed.

County clerks, who faced criminal prosecution if they did not comply immediately, quickly rebelled, saying they didn't have the staff or money for the task.

Abbott Wednesday suspended implementation of his opinion to give legislators time to resolve the problem.