Cape Coral man says clerk of court allowed his private information to be posted online

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:
Lee County Clerk of Court website.

A man filing an appeal for a 2009 DUI conviction, says a motion containing his social security number and medical records was visible to the public for years.

“It’s basically a criminal’s dream, they don’t have to worry about skimmers. They just go to Lee Clerk and get all the information they need,” said Mark Donaldson.

Within a 209 page document from 2016, Donaldon’s social security number was visible. The office of the Lee County Clerk of Court removed the information within minutes after WINK News sent an email inquiring about the issue.

In August, a WINK News investigation alerted the clerk about a confidential filing containing graphic information in a child abuse case.

Lee County Clerk of Court Linda Doggett said a staff member missed a confidential information filing before posting that document.

“Our staff has been re-trained,” Doggett said in August.

The most recent incident and the August incident were not the only times confidential information became available on the online records search website.

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A software glitch in February 2016 also led to sexual assault victim information and social security numbers to be posted.

Another filing by Donaldson, shows that his social security number was posted online alongside his fingerprint card when that happened.

He said he also found dozens of other criminal court filings where social security numbers appeared alongside fingerprint cards.

‘When I alerted (the Clerk’s office) they fixed it immediately,” he said.

He claimed that the other filing that contained his social security number was left uncorrected for years despite his attempts to notify them about the issue.

But a spokesperson for the clerk’s office said they were not aware of Donaldson’s issue until being contacted by WINK News.

“The Clerk’s office receives more than two million documents each year for filing, so occasionally inadvertent disclosures will happen,” wrote Rita Miller, the community relations manager for Lee County Clerk of Court Linda Doggett.

Miller also explained that the clerk’s redaction software is more than 98 percent accurate, and if any confidential information is noticed to alert them immediately to take care of it.

“We are looking at other redaction software to bring our automatic redaction rates to 100 percent,” she added.

To avoid inadvertent disclosure, Miller said that anyone filing information with the court should include a notice of confidential information.

The Clerk’s office hosts several public events to explain how their online records system works, and what information is considered confidential. For information regarding those community workshops click here.

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