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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Should Government Shield Online Identity of Homeowners?

In this week's edition of Opinions Online, I received this comment:
There is a Northampton county judge whose home, when searched on ncpub.org (assessment records), comes up as "Unknown Owner." I can certainly understand the judge's concerns for privacy in the event of a hostile losing litigant, etc. He also has the house's image blurred out on Google Earth, but anyone can have Google do that for them easily.

I work in a position in the private sector where I am frequently threatened with violence from angry members of the public. I have had a gun pulled on me. God forbid one of them decides to meet me at my house one night. Why can't my house be listed as "Unknown Owner"? I've never seen any home listed like that other than this judge's.

County policy or handshake deal with the assessment folks?
He later added this:
I am the one who posted the comment about the judge's house. In case anyone wants to blur their home in Google Earth street view, it's easy:
1. Open Google Earth, type in your address, and go to street view.
2. Click "Report a Problem" in the lower right corner of the image.
3. Follow the steps that appear on the screen from there.
4. If you have an alleyway to the rear of your home, make sure you repeat the process for that angle.

I'll add that when I called the assessment folks about having my house's record changed to unknown owner, they first claimed to have no idea what I was talking about, then they said it just was not possible.
At one time, the public was able to search ncpub.org by a person's last name. That policy was changed after I complained about the loss of privacy and the very real possibility that the information could be used for data-mining or to present a real risk to personal security. You can still search assessment records by last name, but to do so, you have to visit the courthouse in Easton.

Using that system yesterday, I was able to determine the residential address of every Northampton County Common Pleas judge as well as every magisterial District Judge. I also obtained the home addresses of several assistant District Attorneys, the District Attorney and Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio.

With that information, I returned to ncpub.org. To be clear, this is an online version of the County's assessment records, but is not the official version. Using that system, I saw that when I typed in a judge's home address, the answer I received was "Unknown owner." But when I typed in a prosecutor's or a police officer's address, their names appeared.

I also checked Google maps, and no judge has blurred his or her home address that I could see.

County officials inform me that the judges' names have been removed from this online system at the request of the Courts. When he was Executive, John Stoffa agreed to remove their names, but also decided that no one else would be given that privilege.

Those of you who know me know I am a John Stoffa fan. But I consider this a mistake. Just as the judges have had their names purged from the system for obvious personal security reasons, any property owner should have the right to make that request. There should be no need to demonstrate a need. The right to know has a concomitant right to privacy.

I was informed that County officials denied this privacy request to an FBI agent as well as others. This privacy policy should be expanded to include everyone who makes a request. I also do not fault the judges. They should not have to worry about someone invading their home. But nor should DAs, police officers or people like my anonymous reader.

In Europe, the right to privacy is protected much more than in this country. U.S. privacy rights are much more limited.


Anonymous said...

Seems to me "blurring" a property on Google earth or any other aerial photography is much like painting a "bulls eye" on it.

Instead of worrying about their names on PUBLIC records, perhaps they should worry more about their children and grandchildren's indiscriminate use of Facebook, Twitter, et al. Trust me, if someone wants to find someone else---they can.

There has been very little to NO public discussion of privacy rights in this country for a long long time. That's the sad issue.

Anonymous said...

I am sure the judges, DA and police chief are thrilled at your fishing expedition. Maybe if you moved your lazy ass and found a job, you would not have to stalk people 24/7. You are a sad and pathetic waste of space.

Anonymous said...

Favoritism at its best. Why not remove sheriff names or even those who work in corrections. Nah ! they wouldn't do that. They only car about those who make $$$

Anonymous said...

Since Judge's are ELECTED and represent the public, the argument of their stuff being private is a very moot point! Do we also do that with their voter registration information and public filings? If it is public record then it is public record, period. Their DMV tags however are not public or even accessible to the public and should be excluded like in CA and other states.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:32, Do not leave gaps after your comments. I will delete comments like those, even if I agree with them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:05, I believe there should be a right to online personal privacy. There is no doubt in my mind that judges, DAs, cops and o0thers have a demonstrable need for protective. Frankly, I think it should be afforded to anyone who asks for it.

Anonymous said...

" I believe there should be a right to online personal privacy."

And the King of leaks, and a serial violator of privacy through stalking, harassment, bullying and disgusting lies stands up for the thousands upon thousands of people he has violated for a decade straight.

You should put your money where your mouth is, hypocrite. You have published dozens of hit pieces that contain private information not subject to disclousure...as recently as yesterday with the confidential bid info from the airport authority.

If your asshole and your hands/ mouth could be distinguished from each other, it would be a truly great day!

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:35, You have an obvuious agenda of hatred for me. You demoinstrate that bc you are unable to recognize the different between exposing a government intent on shrouding what it sdoes in secrecy while protecting the people from government attempts to monitor their every mood. My position is very consistent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:37, I did not bring this topic up. Someone else did. I investigated and determined that the person is accurate. The names of judges are removed from ncpub.org. I agree with that practicce. My only suggestion is that it be made available for everyone seeking it.

Anonymous said...

The time spent looking up every single judge, magistrate, ADA, DA, and police home adresses shows everyone what a pathetic whacko you are with an insane amount of free time on your hands...what happened , did little Ricko fire you or something?

Then actually writing about it, shows some veiled attempt at a threat...I would hope that JM charges you with 50 plus counts of stalking and harassment

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mezzacapps is in a bad mood bc her mother admitted during depositions tgat she accepted s conveyance of Mezzacappa's real estate to avoid the claims of creditors. She also made some other interesting disclosures.

The amount of time I spent was about 15 minutes. I work with these records all the time. Now go take your drug cocktail and stay off this blog.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Then actually writing about it, shows some veiled attempt at a threat...I would hope that JM charges you with 50 plus counts of stalking and harassment"

Cuckoo! I confirmed that the reader who stated judge identites are removed from ncpub.org is correct. I stated I agree with theis police and think it should be expanded to any person who wants it. To view this as a threat is beyond bizarre.

Anonymous said...

The "reader" who pointed this out as an anon is no one but O'Hare himself, childishly spying on judges, then using fake attribution to disguise that he is warning judges he knows where they live. How'd that work out for ole Clinton Oxford?

Bernie O'Hare said...


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted a comment which will be used by one or two Stoffa haters out there to launch personal attacks. Of course they are anonymous. He is no longer in office, and the discussion here should focus on online personal privacy.