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Oneida County Pulls Plug on Internet Records

Jan-12-06

(NY) -- Less than a week after taking office, newly elected Oneida County Clerk  Sandra DePerno made good on her campaign promise to pull the plug on sensitive records that her predecessor had posted online.

For more than a year, about 3 million records had been available on the Internet, and nearly 70,000 might have contained information such as Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, dates of birth and signatures, DePerno said.

DePerno replaced former County Clerk Rick Allen. Allen had been comfortably ensconced in the position for over 5 years until  he posted the personal information of every Oneida County property owner's  on the Internet in December 2005.

Allen's action prompted outrage from local citizens. Letters poured in to the Utica Observer Dispatch.

 The Oneida County Bar Association voiced their concerns about private information found in the online documents and asked Allen to interrupt Internet access until he met with the bar's board of directors to discuss the steps taken to safeguard personal information. Allen agreed to the meeting, but refused to take the records offline.

After Allen's refusal, local Republicans began looking for someone to replace him. They chose former county GOP chair Annette Foley. Allen then switched sides to run in the 2006 campaign under the Working Families banner.

When DePerno entered the race as a Democrat, most people "in the know"  never thought that she had any kind of a realistic shot at actually winning the job, But she had an edge and shortly after DePerno made her promise to protect the records, the Central New York Political Insider predicted, "Sandy DePerno will be Oneida County's next Clerk".

DePerno ran on a platform that promised to protect local citizens from exploitation by those outside the jurisdiction. Her promise resonated with the voters and she captured 45% of the votes. Allen received only 12%.

Last week DePerno kept her promise to protect the citizens within her jurisdiction.

"The records are still available, as they always were, here in the clerk's office," DePerno said. "They've always been available; they're just not going to be out on the Internet."

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