Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County Board Committee to Hold a Hearing on Property Information on the Internet

November 01, 2001
Supervisor Kevin Kesterson (838-9518) Supervisor Dave Hanneman (837-7576) Karin Peterson, Office of the County Board (266-4533)
County Executive

A committee of the Dane County Board has scheduled a public hearing to gather testimony regarding the inclusion of names of property owners on public land information records available via the Internet. The hearing before the county's Information Resources Management Committees will be on Tuesday, November 6th at 7 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center. Supervisor Kevin Kesterson, chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, believes providing an opportunity for county residents to weigh in on this issue is critical. "I want to make sure county residents have an understanding of the issue of balancing privacy and electronic access to public information. I want the Information Resources Management Committee to have an appreciation for the perspectives of the public before they develop guidelines," Kesterson said. Dane County has developed and maintains the "Access Dane" web site to provide access to public land information records using the Internet. In their original form, as maintained in the Register of Deeds office, public land records include the names of property owners and are available for inspection as required by the Wisconsin public records law. The Access Dane web site, on the other hand, currently provides the names only to government users and professional users who sign an agreement regarding use of personally identifiable information. Commercial users pay a subscription fee to offset the cost of providing the service. In August, the Dane County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution stating that, as a general policy, the Access Dane web site should not block access to names of property owners. The Board directed the County's Information Resources Management Committee to develop exceptions to this policy for individuals whose personal safety would be endangered by disclosure of such information. "As web sites continue to develop, the greater issue is how Dane County treats electronic access to public records while balancing privacy issues. Obviously, there are competing needs and concerns. We welcome comments from the public both on the Access Dane policy and on this broader question as well," noted Supervisor Dave Hanneman, chair of the Information Resources Management Committee. The public hearing on Tuesday will begin with a brief presentation by staff, followed by testimony from the public. The Information Resources Management Committee is expected to make a report to the County Board by mid-December.