Washington state

Snohomish County to limit access to records

EVERETT - Snohomish County is removing hundreds of thousands of public records from the Internet because of identity theft concerns.

Beginning March 1, access to 61 types of documents - marriage and death certificates, tax liens, and divorce records among them - will be stripped from the county's online archives, Auditor Carolyn Diepenbrock said.

"There is a public perception that individuals are getting this information from our Web site and then committing identity theft," Diepenbrock told The Herald of Everett.

But she also said county officials don't know of any case where an identity thief has relied on online access to the documents.

"If you do research on identity theft, where people get that information, they're not getting it from us," Diepenbrock said. "But because there is a public perception, we're trying to ease the concern of our public by removing these documents."

County officials estimate 2.2 million public documents dating to 1997 are recorded and indexed on the county's Web site, including property documents, marriage certificates and other legal forms.

About 10 percent of those documents will be removed, but still will be available at the public records office, Diepenbrock said.

She said King and Pierce counties already restrict online access to some types of documents, Diepenbrock said. She said she modeled her plan after those counties.