How are Public Records Collected? Public Records Explained
Governments worldwide are custodians of public records, and they use these records to make informed decisions about policies, laws, and regulations that affect the citizenry.
They collect these records through various means and from diverse sources, and then they make some of them available for public consumption. The public can then get permission from the appropriate channels to obtain information about these records.
This article intends to briefly explore the various methods through which public records are collected, most especially by the government.
Through government institutions
Using the U.S.A as a case study, the lineup of Government institutions that keep public records can range from the census bureau to the Department of Justice or the Library of Congress. They keep these records at the behest of the federal government and do not necessarily require a special permit to grant access to them
Through evaluation reports
This is an effective tool with which governments can check for the efficiency and influence of their programs. The authorized entities can regularly access the progress of government schemes and projects, and reports from these assessments can serve as a benchmark for government intervention or otherwise. From the state auditors to the Accountability office, the periodic evaluation reports that they undertake become public records. Government can use these records to stake claims to transparency and accountability.
Through relevant Court Records and orders
The first step to obtaining records from the court is to find out about the pertinence of its jurisdiction. If a government authority seeks to obtain civil or criminal case records, then they might need to go through the channels provided at the federal, state, or county level. For matters of civil arbitration, such as domestic disputes, individuals can simply go to the presiding courthouse and ask for permission to view the records. However, the government can cut right through the red tape, especially in matters of urgency.
From birth records, marriage, and divorce records
Public records can be found in repositories that are intended for the storage of information regarding births, marriage, and divorce. Using their known date or city of birth, some websites like familysearch.org can allow you to search for anyone. On the other hand, marriage and divorce records can not be collected online but at the relevant county office. The government, through the relevant agencies can collect data from hospitals and courts at all levels.
Through Census information.
Using the known names for their State, county or city/town, or Zip code, you can gather relevant information about a target entity from the website of the Census Bureau, but only if you're the government. All the information regarding population, income, and demographic information, can be obtained from this website with the click of a few buttons. But as this record is strictly confidential, you can only access those records that concern only you.
Through Government database
From the meteorological agencies to the FDA and the national health records, the government can provide databases that warehouse sensitive data, as well as distribute it. These databases can serve as storage sites for social security numbers or driver's licenses for the entire citizenry, and the government can use them whenever they deem it fit. They can use these records to tackle climate change, disease outbreaks, and a host of other contingencies that arise.
Through Private websites
Nowadays, some websites in the public domain have become privy to the collection of public records. These websites, "Truthfinder" and "People Finders" for example, now collect sensitive data regarding some specific people. Anyone who wishes to do extensive background checks on someone else can simply input their name in the website's text field. These searches can yield data regarding employment history, past criminal records, or other sensitive information.