We get quite a few comments at the Public Records Free Directory from users who would like to have their personal information removed from public records. The term ‘public record’ means different things to different people, so a little background might be helpful.
In the strictest sense, ‘public records’ refers to those records held by governments that are accessible to the public. Court records, property tax records, deeds and other recorded documents, vital statistics, and business license records are some of the more common types of public records. For the most part, one can not have this type of public record modified or removed. Exceptions include the expunging of a court record.
The whole reason for the existence of the record and the public access to it would be defeated if one could simply opt-out. For example, you’d probably agree that it would not be in the public interest to allow a level 3 sex offender to have their publicly available records modified or removed from public access.
There are many services that obtain public records as described above and ‘add value’ to them by making them easier for you to search and/or by combining records from multiple jurisdictions. There is real value in this type of service, provided that you are diligent about knowing that the scope of data offered meets your needs. None of the services that deal with warehousing government public records are likely to remove any information from thier locally held files that would otherwise be available form the government data source. To do so would compromise the integrity of their service.
Another class of data that is sometimes referred to – incorrectly – as public records are the proprietary databases used by people finder services, web phone directories, search engine directories, and others. These databases are derived from multiple sources including government public records, and other sources that are not in the public domain.
Most of the private database providers have a processes in place to have non-public information removed.