Court records and sexual assault victims

Alan Prendergast responds in a comment to my post from earlier this week about records regarding sexual assault victims.

He writes:

Thanks for raising this issue on your site. Allow me to clarify one point on the original posting. I don’t know of any journalists who have a problem with the redacting of names of sexual assault victims. I don’t see bloggers routinely “outing” victims, in any case. (Few would bother to go to the courthouse for records, for one thing; many simply riff off the content done by actual reporters.) But I was not trying to make a case that sexual victims aren’t entitled to privacy, or that such redaction wouldn’t be a legitimate concern of the courts. The real issue is extending the “privacy” argument to all sorts of information and making a specious claim that data must be protected because of possible identity theft, even though there is no evidence that those who use court files are trying to steal the identities contained therein. This line of reasoning becomes a pretext for effective denial of access to public records.

I’ve also never heard of a blogger outing the identity of a sexual assault victim. My concern in this regard is that the privacy of sexual assault victims shouldn’t rely on the integrity of journalists or the indolence of bloggers. I believe it should be legally guaranteed and, of course, these protections should not be used to buttress the generally specious identity theft argument.

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