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Public Records Privacy Statement

Introduction

Thomson Reuters uses personal information responsibly and strives to protect privacy rights. All data in the Thomson Reuters Westlaw and CLEAR (Consolidated Lead Evaluation and Reporting) public records databases are supplied by government agencies and reputable private suppliers. We do not add personal information collected from individuals to our public records products.

Thomson Reuters makes personal information available for legitimate uses by business and government organizations. That means we adhere to the principles in this Public Records Privacy Statement and comply with the requirements of statutes such as the U.S. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) and the U.S. Driver's Privacy Protection Act. Thomson Reuters limits access to non-public and Social Security number (SSN) information, and may terminate access to any user who misuses public records. Public records on Westlaw and CLEAR are used to identify and clarify relationships among businesses, people and assets. Thomson Reuters is not a consumer credit reporting agency. Therefore, Thomson Reuters does not:

  • Permit use of its public records data to compile mailing lists or consumer marketing data
  • Maintain any databases of non-public individual financial data such as individual credit reports, income tax records, or bank information
  • Collect or distribute information about any person's religious preference or health
  • Collect any person's medical records

Definitions

"Public Records" are records that are created and maintained by government agencies and are open for public inspection (although access may be limited to certain permissible purposes). Examples include:

Real estate records; Lawsuit filing records;

Birth, marriage, and divorce records; and

Motor vehicle data

"Nonpublic Information" is information about an individual obtained from a source that is privately or publicly owned and is not available to the general public. Examples include Social Security Number and similar government-issued identification numbers.

"Publicly Available Information" is information about an individual from non-governmental sources that is available to the general public. Sources include:

Newspapers and other publications;

Telephone directories; and

Classified ads

"Personally Identifiable Information" is information about a person that identifies or is directly attributed to that person. Personally identifiable information is contained in public records, non-public information and publicly available information. Examples include:

A person's name;

Address;

Date of birth; and

Social Security Numbers.

"Permissible Use" means that Westlaw and CLEAR subscribers must use public records data for specific, legitimate purposes. These purposes must comply with the U.S. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, U.S. Drivers Privacy Protection Act and other applicable laws. Examples of uses that may be permissible include:

Detecting fraud

Locating individuals

Engaging in law enforcement and official Government activities

Does Thomson Reuters distribute nonpublic information to the general public?

Thomson Reuters does not distribute non-public information to the general public. Only properly authorized Westlaw and CLEAR subscribers have access to non-public information available through databases like People-Finder. Westlaw and CLEAR subscribers include law firms, legal and compliance departments, government agencies and other authorized entities.

Who can access Social Security Numbers (SSNs) through Westlaw and CLEAR?

Westlaw and CLEAR users may search records using a SSN in their possession, but the results of those searches will display masked SSNs. An example of a masked SSN is 987-65-XXXX. The vast majority of Westlaw users cannot access full SSNs. Only approved users within government agencies (for example, law enforcement and certain government agencies) and certain specially-approved private sector entities may have access to full SSNs. Before they are granted access to SSNs on Westlaw and CLEAR, these organizations must qualify through a review process to have such access.

How does Thomson Reuters secure public records and personal information?

Thomson Reuters strives to keep all of our data secure. We take reasonable steps to protect personally identifiable information from unauthorized access. Thomson Reuters employees do not have access to full Social Security Numbers, except rarely when required for specialized product development and support functions. Such employees are required to complete privacy training and agree to an appropriate use affirmation.

What steps does Thomson Reuters take to inform employees and users about appropriate use of its products?

Thomson Reuters takes steps to inform our employees and users about appropriate use of its public record products and services. We take measures to bridge awareness of:

  • Responsible use of public records, publicly available information and non-public information; and
  • Privacy and security issues associated with information products and services from Thomson Reuters.

How does Thomson Reuters acquire public records and nonpublic information?

Thomson Reuters collects public records and non-public information from established sources in the government and private sectors. In most cases, this occurs under license agreement with those suppliers. The terms of use and information protection requirements within those agreements may be more stringent or limiting than requirements in applicable law.

Are the records from Thomson Reuters accurate?

We take reasonable steps to accurately reproduce data we receive from suppliers. However, sometimes this data may contain errors. While some data suppliers and government entities will entertain requests for changes from members of the general public, many will only acknowledge and consider requests for changes when they are submitted by resellers such as Thomson Reuters. Therefore, if you find an error on Westlaw or CLEAR related to non-public information or public records concerning you, please send an email message to westlaw.privacypolicy@thomsonreuters.com. Based on the source of the data and the requirements of that particular vendor, we will notify you as to the documentation that you may need to submit in order to have the vendor consider making the change being requested. Please be aware that we have no options in terms of the copies of documentation that may be requested to commence the correction process for any particular error. The requirements are dictated by each supplier.

Can I find out what information Thomson Reuters has about me in its public and non-public information databases?

Yes. You may request a statement of the information contained about you in Thomson Reuters public and non-public information databases. To ensure your privacy, we'll ask for information verifying your identity. To request a statement, complete the Westlaw and CLEAR Personal Information Request Form and return it, along with a copy of your driver's license or government issued identification, to:

Westlaw and CLEAR Public Records
ATTN: D5-S400 - Personal Information Request
610 Opperman Drive
Eagan, MN 55123

Please note: the copy of your driver's license or government issued identification will be used only to verify your identity and must be a clean, fully legible copy. These copies will be destroyed when the process is complete. Also, we reserve the right to deny unreasonable requests for access.

If you have questions about requesting your personally identifiable information, please send an email message to westlaw.privacypolicy@thomsonreuters.com.

What kind of information is included in the personal information statement?

The personal information statement may include information from public records and non-public sources. The statement will only include information from records referring unambiguously to you. Please see the "Definitions" section of the Public Records Privacy Statement for definitions of public records and non-public information.

Can I have my personally identifiable information removed?

An individual may request that his/her personally identifiable information be removed from a Westlaw or CLEAR public records database. However, it is important to note that casual removal of personal information from Thomson Reuters products could compromise the integrity of such products, in part because law enforcement agencies, law firms and compliance departments rely on the accuracy and completeness of Thomson Reuters databases.

Thomson Reuters will act to help prevent certain harms to an individual that could result from the display of personal information in Thomson Reuters products. Therefore, each request will be evaluated on the merits of that request and the nature of the product(s) in question. In evaluating such requests, it must be determined whether the person in question:

  • is a judge, public official or member of law enforcement; and/or
  • can provide evidence that the availability of his/her personal information on Westlaw and/or CLEAR exposes him/her to risk of physical harm; and/or
  • is a victim of identity theft.

In order to consider such requests, we require a written explanation substantiating the request. Depending on the nature of the request, the person will be required to provide:

  • copies of credentials (verifying his/her position in law enforcement or public office); and/or letters from supervisors (required when the requestor is a member of law enforcement or a public official); and/or
  • police reports or court orders (regarding potential physical harm); and/or
  • police reports or letters from credit reporting companies (regarding identity theft)

Specifically, the requestor must complete the Westlaw and CLEAR Public Records Personal Information Removal Request Form and return it with the supporting documentation to:

Westlaw and CLEAR Public Records
ATTN: D5-S400 – Personal Information Removal Request
610 Opperman Drive
Eagan, MN 55123

Additional questions about who can request removal of their personal information or what kind of documentation is required, may be directed to westlaw.privacypolicy@thomsonreuters.com. Once a request to remove personal information has either been granted or denied, that decision will be communicated to the requestor in writing, as appropriate.

Notice

This public records privacy statement may be revised without notice. If our information practices change in a significant way, we will post the changes here. This Privacy Statement was last updated on June 21, 2011.