The Courts and the Internet: A Match Made in Hell?
James E. Houpt
Posted Wednesday, February 21, 2001

In the cyber-age, you may be sharing some of your client's most sensitive personal information with the world via the Internet, whether you like it or not. How? Electronic filing and access is coming soon to a courthouse near you. In fact, if you litigate in bankruptcy court, it's here now. Bankruptcy court files are online, and they're accessible by virtually anyone, anywhere. The remainder of the federal courts will follow soon. And almost every state court is laying plans for electronic filing and access. Can you stop it? Probably not. But lawyers better be aware of it.

Federal judges learned firsthand last year about the troubled relationship between privacy and the Internet. Chief Justice William Rehnquist prevailed upon the Judicial Conference to release judges' financial disclosure forms to an online, criminal-justice newsletter, APBNews. The first forms to see the light of the Internet were the financial disclosures for the nine Supreme Court justices themselves.2

APBNews had filed suit in December 1999 after lobbying the Judicial Conference for months to release financial disclosures for all federal judges. Citing security and privacy concerns, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts ("AO") initially balked at APBNews' request for the forms of all 1600 federal judges. Chief Justice Rehnquist brokered a deal with the Judicial Conference's Financial Disclosure Committee, which had made the call to withhold the forms, to release the forms. The arrangement allowed judges to redact any information that might be particularly sensitive, including some information about spouses and the location of real estate.3

But the release of the forms did not resolve the matter. At last word, APBNews' lawyer, Mark Zaid, vowed to continue the lawsuit (even though APBNews was on the ropes financially and operating with volunteers when it finally won the right to publish the disclosure forms). In a bipartisan demand, Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley and Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy sent letters to the AO questioning the long delays for release of the forms. Others have questioned why the financial disclosure law allows the AO to require individual, written requests for financial disclosure forms in the first place - and why the AO has the right to delay release until after it notifies the targeted judge, creating a chilling effect on lawyers who might want to check a judge's potential conflicts.4

The Administrative Office and Judicial Council have obvious and understandable concerns for the personal safety of judges who wield the power to sentence violent criminals and to dismiss the frivolous cases of pro se litigants. But initial denial of access to the financial disclosure forms may have given the judiciary a shiner. Some Congressmen complained that they have had to endure Internet postings of their financial disclosures for quite some time, and intimated that Congress might take the power from the judiciary to control its financial disclosure policies. The Freedom Forum called the Judicial Conference's stance a "First Amendment Outrage." 5 Even Chief Justice Rehnquist conceded, "the fact that officials from the executive and legislative branches must also file disclosure reports makes the [Judicial Conference's Financial Disclosure] committee's position more difficult to defend."6 The battle squarely involved the apparently awesome power of the Internet to disseminate personal information. The AO had been releasing financial disclosure forms to more traditional media without any apparent qualms.7 Federal judges in some states were probably baffled by the brouhaha, having been the subject of press reports for years about their financial disclosures.8 Furthermore, the request was not unprecedented. The Kansas City Star and New York television station WNBC had been posting financial disclosure statements of their local federal judges on the Internet long before the dispute.9 APBNews proclaimed that newspapers and watchdog groups had used the disclosures in the past to publicize cases where judges or their spouses held stock or other investment interests in parties appearing before their courts.10

The dispute seems more difficult to settle than the most contentious divorce. On one side is the question of discriminating among the media. Editors at one Florida newspaper aptly summarized the issue:

A rule that allows public records to be published in the local newspaper but not disseminated digitally creates a nonsensical distinction. There is no constitutionally valid reason to set up special publishing restrictions for the Internet that don't apply to other media. In Reno v. ACLU, the one case the U.S. Supreme Court has decided on freedom to publish on the Internet, cyberspace was given full First Amendment protection.11
The St. Petersburg Times is right on the money, even if you think it's wrong on the principle. Prior cases had limited First Amendment protection somewhat for broadcasters who use the relatively scarce availability of frequencies in the "public" airwaves.12 But as to the Internet, the Supreme Court held almost four years ago, the "cases provide no basis for qualifying the level of First Amendment scrutiny that should be applied to this medium."13 Even the Chief Justice's message to the Judicial Council seemed to concede that the Council had been wrong on the law, and that the 1978 Ethics in Government Act required the forms' release under the exception for "news and communications media."14

The other side of the question is the unavoidable and unexaggerated conclusion that the Internet truly is something quite different from anything that humankind has experienced. Before Guttenberg, free speech was an orator in the town square. Even the best speakers were unlikely to reach any but a small audience, potentially enjoying some word-of-mouth conveyance for particularly compelling speech. By the time of the American Revolution, Guttenberg's movable type had provided some means of mass communications, though printing presses were expensive and required a hefty investment of time and labor. By the 20th century, publishing had improved markedly but was still in the hands of the wealthy, or dissidents who could raise significant capital. Even so, the printed product had to be transported to its recipients. Broadcasting greatly extended the reach of a message, allowing instantaneous national and even international communications. But again, only the wealthy owned and controlled the medium.

The Internet is an unprecedented and unique communications mode. Even the homeless can log on from a library computer and transmit a worldwide message. A person with unusual skills could develop a rabid following without substantial funding or an army of followers to convey the message. The soap box has a new meaning in this medium. More cases than ever are echoing similar sentiments:

Despite the protection provided by the First Amendment, unconventional speakers are often limited in their ability to promote such speech in the marketplace by the costs or logistics of reaching the masses, hence, the adage that freedom of the press is limited to those who own one. In the medium of cyberspace, however, anyone can build a soap box out of web pages and speak her mind in the virtual village green to an audience larger and more diverse than any of the Framers could have imagined. In many respects, unconventional messages compete equally with the speech of mainstream speakers in the marketplace of ideas that is the Internet, certainly more than in most other media.15
The lower federal courts are not alone in their assessment. The Supreme Court has expressed similar awe:

Through the use of chat rooms, any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox. Through the use of Web pages, mail exploders, and newsgroups, the same individual can become a pamphleteer.16

What happens when court records become available on the Internet? Can courts block this means of access, especially if they keep access open to attorneys and participants? Is a union between the judicial system and the Internet a good idea?

If Any Present Can Show Just And Legal Cause Why These Two May Not Be Joined Together, Let Them Speak Now Or Forever Hold Their Peace

This discussion does not address whether the First Amendment, the common law or both protect judicial files. That debate has raged for decades and no resolution is imminent. But, the tradition of access to judicial records, tempered by the court's discretion, is too well established to withstand attack. "It is clear that the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents." 17

The bankruptcy court is the current platform for the privacy debate because bankruptcy files are now online - including social security numbers, sensitive financial and tax information, names of creditors, even sensitive medical information in some cases.18 Civil and criminal case files are no less personal. Any judicial file can contain information that is far more personally embarrassing than most bankruptcy filings. Furthermore, unlike most bankruptcy petitioners, nearly all civil and criminal defendants are in the judicial system involuntarily, yet even the most scurrilous charges and accusations become public record with the simple filing of a complaint. But, at least for the federal district courts, electronic filing and access is still as much as two years from reality in most courts, so the debate over civil and criminal files is only beginning.19

The issue of privacy and bankruptcy court files is serious enough to demand presidential attention. Last year, President Clinton ordered the Department of Justice, Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget to study the impact on personal privacy of present and proposed bankruptcy court practices, including proposals to make bankruptcy files available via the Internet.20 The former President ordered the study in April 2000 and fast-tracked the issue. On the last day of President Clinton's administration, the three federal agencies recommended reform to protect privacy, suggesting that government should reform bankruptcy law to allow the sealing of some personal data - but to allow continued access to the "core information" in bankruptcy files.21 The Bush Administration has yet to disclose its position. If courts choose to allow full access for some via the Internet, but to limit access to the public, such discriminatory access to court records could be difficult to police:

  • If attorneys, litigants and other participants get full access to the electronic database from their offices and homes, but reporters and others in the public must access records at the courthouse, how will the court monitor and restrict access?
  • Will the court assign a staff of clerks to the job of doling out passwords, limiting passwords to specific files, and canceling passwords for misuse?
  • What happens when a newspaper or dot-com is the creditor - how will the courts stop it from using its access to obtain information for news stories about a debtor?
  • Will courts require users to sign agreements that users will not use electronically obtained documents for news stories?
  • If a newspaper or dot-com uses its status as creditor to search for titillating information via the Internet, what stops it from going to the courthouse, obtaining a copy of the juicy document, and publishing the details from the paper document or posting the document online?
  • How will the public react to find that it is funding electronic access for a few, but that courts are denying access to the public?22

These and many other questions suggest that courts may step into a quagmire if they insist on developing the new technology, but decide to share it selectively.

Perhaps the courts can simply turn back the clock and avoid the debate entirely by returning to paper files. The idea has appeal, but the lure of the paperless court probably has greater appeal. Nearly every court system in the country has plans or aspirations to implement electronic filing.23 The prospect is too tempting that courts can reduce their payroll by cutting the number of paper-shuffling clerks. The trend toward electronic filing seems inexorable.

The electronic courthouse has other advantages. Judge Dennis O'Brien, chief judge of the bankruptcy court in the District of Minnesota, lobbied for electronic records because little prevents someone from placing fraudulent documents in a hard-copy file, removing documents, or even stealing a file. As Judge O'Brien sees it, "We don't have the personnel to monitor everyone looking at a file." 24 With paper documents, courts can maintain an expensive and space-consuming double-file system to prevent fraud, theft and loss. With electronic documents, automatic backups cost relatively little and do not require exponential expansions of file rooms or archives.

Preventing the marriage of the judicial system and the Internet seems to be increasingly unlikely. So the debate is turning to whether a prenuptial agreement can save personal privacy. Does the law support it?

What Technology Has Brought Together, Let No One Put Asunder

Many hope to limit impacts on personal privacy by limiting access to online judicial files. As the rationale for selectively withholding the court's computer-stored files, many in the debate cite the Supreme Court's holding that the FBI can withhold "rap sheets" from reporters under the Freedom of Information Act.25 In United States Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press,26 the Court weighed the " 'practical obscurity' of the rap sheets against the public interest in their release."27 The Court observed:

Plainly there is a vast difference between the public records that might be found after a diligent search of courthouse files, county archives, and local police stations throughout the country and a computerized summary located in a single clearinghouse of information.28

Debaters concede that Reporters Committee does not apply to the judicial-files-on-the-Internet issue because the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the courts. But, they argue, Reporters Committee is persuasive authority on a court's ability to keep files off the Internet to protect personal privacy.29

Debaters may read Reporters Committee far too broadly, even if FOIA applied to the judiciary. For one thing, court files are presumptively public records under current law; rap sheets include much non-public information. For example, investigatory records are exempt from disclosure under California's Public Records Act,30 yet information from investigatory files may be in an FBI rap sheet.31 Rap sheets and judicial files may be apples and oranges. Reporters Committee does not even consider the clash between public access and the common-law or constitutional right of access that may apply to judicial files. The case considers only the statutory interpretation of FOIA, which authorizes disclosure of some government records, and other statutes and regulations that prohibit the public release of rap sheets and other personal information.32

Among those other statutes is the Privacy Act,33 which protects individuals from the government's uninhibited collection and distribution of personal, private information. However, as a fundamental of privacy law - whether statutory or common law - once information is public, even in the paper files at the clerk's office, it is public for purposes of privacy law. Further dissemination does not create a new or different privacy interest. In other words, information does not become "more public" because it goes on the Internet. Though decisions are few so far, courts have not recognized any means to differentiate public release in a paper record from release on the Internet.34

A more fundamental reason exists why Reporters Committee poorly frames the debate: Reporters Committee applies to compilations of information from widely divergent sources. Rap sheets are a compilation of information from other sources, about one person, unavailable anywhere else in compiled form. Each bankruptcy court file is a source of information for a compilation. Thus, Reporters Committee would apply more neatly to bankruptcy and civil records compiled by the Internal Revenue Service about an individual. Reporters Committee presumably bars public access to the IRS compilation, but not to the public-record source of the information.

Debaters may suggest that, once all bankruptcy court files are online, the Internet provides a virtual compilation. From the comfort of a computer screen, a person can search every federal jurisdiction for mention of friends, enemies, neighbors or relatives.35 But searchers still must undertake the effort to search all files; the government itself does not provide the compilation. The Internet merely provides an easier means for an individual to compile information, and the means to compile the same information exists without the Internet. The means are merely less expensive and cumbersome when they are online. So long as courts adhere to the view that a common-law right of access exists, and that bankruptcy court files are judicial records, courts will be hard pressed to prevent access to the paper files.36

Debate participants sometimes cite Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc.37 for the proposition that courts have the right to limit access to computerized files via the Internet. But Nixon clearly does not stand for the proposition that courts, because they harbor privacy concerns, have unfettered rights to block access to all files. The Court in Nixon did not permit copying of President Richard Nixon's secretly recorded Oval Office audiotapes, even though the tapes had been evidence in a criminal trial. But the Court relied most heavily on the finding that the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act had supplanted the common-law right of access to the tapes38 - which suggests that Nixon may not support court-initiated access discrimination without congressional authority to do so. Nixon sidestepped common-law or First Amendment concerns by noting that

there is no claim that the press was precluded from publishing or using as it saw fit the testimony and exhibits filed in evidence. There simply were no restrictions on press access to, or publication of, any information in the public domain. Indeed, the press - including reporters of the electronic media - was permitted to listen to the tapes and report on what was heard. Reporters also were furnished transcripts of the tapes, which they were free to comment upon and publish. The contents of the tapes were given wide publicity by all elements of the media. There is no question of a truncated flow of information to the public.39

Nixon is hardly an authoritative discussion of access to the files in the clerk's office anyway, but under the current view of common-law access, the case suggests that courts would be hard pressed to deny access to the paper files. So, if the paper files are available, is it fair or just to limit access to a computerized database of the same documents?

Private companies have gathered and stored bankruptcy court information from the paper files for years40 - which means that the wealthy become the "information haves," and the poor are the "information have nots." In a 1998 article, Cornell Law School Professor Lynn LoPucki, senior advisor to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission for the Data Study Project, proposed this very point: "Those with the money to spend can get virtually any data and assemble it any way they want. Releasing data like public bankruptcy records puts the less well off on an equal footing with the more well off. It's a level playing field issue." 41 Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren agreed: "Refusal to put bankruptcy information online will cut off public access, but not the access of those who are most sophisticated about collecting the information. All you do is drive up the costs." 42

This view finds some support in the caselaw as well. In different contexts, courts have held that the "First Amendment is not available 'merely to those who can pay their own way.' " 43 "The First Amendment protects the right to 'receive information and ideas.' " 44 Therefore, granting Internet access to lawyers, their clients and pro se participants while denying access to the public may be as thorny for the courts as the Judicial Council's initial decision to limit access to financial disclosure forms.

Annulment, Divorce or Happily Ever After?

Since the marriage of the courts and the Internet seems to be occurring despite objections, the question may be whether they have a future together. Professor Warren has argued for Internet access, but has added that "[i]f we have serious concerns about the privacy of the information we're asking for, then don't ask for the information. . . . The appropriate way to deal with the handful [of exceptions] is on a case-by-case basis with a live judge who seals the record." 45

Coincidentally, that is precisely how Chief Justice Rehnquist has proposed to deal with Internet access to judicial financial disclosure forms: to seek a re-examination of information that forms demand so that privacy is reasonably protected, but the citizenry has adequate information to judge the biases and prejudices of its judges. As one judge has put it, does it make any difference whether a judge has one share or 100 shares of General Electric, so long as he or she discloses an interest in General Electric? Perhaps similar adjustments are appropriate for bankruptcy filings, avoiding the need for head-on collisions.

The Framers always understood that "with freedom come consequences." 46 Those consequences are oftentimes unintended. The Chief Justice supposedly learned the lesson of unintended consequences six years ago when the Court threatened action against a political science professor who copied audiotapes from the National Archives of famous Supreme Court oral arguments, then published collections of the arguments. The threats supposedly drove the professor's tapes to the best-seller list. Now, the Court has lifted all restrictions on oral-argument tapes once the Court transfers them to the National Archives at the end of each term (and, during the recent cases over the Florida ballot-counting dispute, the Court took released the tapes on the day of the oral arguments). According to longtime Supreme Court Reporter Tony Mauro, the experience with the Court's audiotapes may have inspired Chief Justice Rehnquist's ultimate advice to the Judicial Council. In a new version of the old adage that it's futile to battle anyone who buys ink by the barrel, the Chief Justice supposedly advised that it doesn't pay to fight companies that end their names in dot-com.47

Consequences will result from any decision. As the debate was just heating up three years ago, one article summarized the dilemma succinctly: "Will putting all the information in bankruptcy files on the Internet help abusive husbands find terrified wives - or will it help single mothers find deadbeat dads and bring them to justice?" 48

The marriage of the courts and the Internet will have consequences - both for good and bad. The question is whether we should accept the bad as the price of the First Amendment, or reject the good as the price of personal privacy.

The author thanks Laurie Cameron, the librarian for the Sacramento office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, for her assistance in researching articles for this discussion. The author adapted this article from a paper presented to the October 2000 Eastern District Conference for judges of and lawyers who practice in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California.

1 Mr. Houpt is a lawyer in the Sacramento office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. Mr. Houpt has extensive experience in libel and privacy law, including the litigation of libel and privacy lawsuits; prepublication and prebroadcast review for book publishers, newspapers, and television; and counseling for Internet content providers. He also litigates general business and commercial disputes including antitrust, unfair competition, trademark and copyright infringement.

2 See, e.g., Tony Mauro, Justices' Financials Finally Appear on Web Site of Hobbled, New Jersey Law Journal, June 26, 2000. To see the financial disclosure forms, check the following web address:

3 Id.

4 See, e.g., Richard Carelli, Judges' Financial Reports Posted on Internet, Chicago Sun-Times, June 23, 2000, at 28.

5 Karen Dorn Steele, Reports Show Judges Among the Very Rich; Request to Post Disclosure Forms on Internet Spawns Legal Fight, Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 2, 2000, at A1.

6 Tony Mauro, Chief: Post Disclosure Forms Online: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouse Is, Legal Times, March 20, 2000, at 6.

7 Bob Port, Judges Relent on Online Financial Disclosure, APBNews, March 14, 2000.

8 See, e.g., Steele, supra note 5.

9 Id.

10 See Port, supra note 7.

11 Equal Treatment for Judges, St. Petersburg Times, December 20, 1999, at 12A.

12 See, e.g., Federal Communications Comm'n v. Pacifica Found., 438 U.S. 726 (1978); Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Comm'n, 395 U.S. 367 (1969).

13 Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 870 (1997); see also id. at 869 ("Those factors are not present in cyberspace. Neither before nor after the enactment of the [Communications Decency Act] have the vast democratic fora of the Internet been subject to the type of government supervision and regulation that has attended the broadcast industry.").

14 See Mauro, supra note 6. Chief Justice Rehnquist apparently realized the potential public-relations nightmare of the debate as well: " 'It is to be expected that closer public scrutiny will be applied when judges decide issues affecting judges. We have already seen evidence of this in editorial commentary, and I suspect it will increase,' [Chief Justice] Rehnquist wrote. 'Moreover, the fact that officials from the executive and legislative branches must also file disclosure reports makes the committee's position more difficult to defend.' " Id.

15 American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno, 31 F. Supp. 2d 473, 476 (E.D. Pa. 1999), aff'd, 217 F.3d 162 (3d Cir. 2000).

16 Reno, 521 U.S. at 870.

17 See, e.g., Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978) (footnote omitted).

18 One recent news article discussed the bankruptcy of a physician-practice group that served HIV and AIDS patients. The court filings included a list of patients. See Clinton Orders Study on Privacy Needs of Debtors, Bankruptcy Court Decisions; News & Comment, July 5, 2000.

19 Jonathan Groner, Courts Consider Perils of Electronic Filing," New Jersey Law Journal, January 15, 2001 ("By 2003, a pilot electronic-filing program developed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is set to expand from nine courts to most or all of the 94 districts nationwide.").

20 See Public Comment on Financial Privacy & Bankruptcy, 65 Fed. Reg. 46,735 (July 31, 2000).

21 More Protection Urged for Financial Info, Chicago Sun-Times, January 19, 2001; Clinton Orders Study on Privacy Needs of Debtors, Bankruptcy Court Decisions; News & Comment, July 5, 2000. The "Study of Financial Privacy and Bankruptcy" is available on the web site for the Electronic Privacy Information Center,

22 That scenario has played out already in at least one state court system. See Eric Siegel, Gail Gibson, Court Records Limits Dropped, Baltimore Sun, December 20, 2000, at 1A ("Faced with a torrent of criticism from the media, businesses and private investigators, a committee of the Maryland judiciary has decided to scuttle its proposal to limit public access to computerized criminal court records."). In neighboring Virginia, at least one court official also recognizes the difficulty of discriminatory access policies. See id. ("In tiny Wise County, Va., Circuit Court Clerk J. Jack Kennedy, Jr., who has led the state in putting court information online, said in a recent interview that it would be a mistake for court officials to try to create a double standard for paper and electronic records as paper filings become increasingly obsolete.").

23 See, e.g., Jahna Berry, E-Court@Home, Recorder, December 29, 2000, at 1 ("Alameda County [California] Superior Court, like a growing number of courts around the state, is preparing to launch a pilot project that will allow attorneys to file court documents via the World Wide Web."); Anne Colden, Courts Embrace Online Filing: Colorado First to Use Statewide System, Denver Post, August 21, 2000, at E-1; Linda Lashbrook, New Rules Are Here: Are You Ready for Them?, New Jersey Lawyer, August 21, 2000, at 4.

24 No! We Should Not Have Full Access to Bankruptcy Records on the Internet, Bankruptcy Court Decisions; News & Comment, August 4, 1998.

25 See, e.g., Office of Judges Programs, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Privacy and Access to Electronic Case Files: Legal Issues, Judiciary Policy and Practice and Policy Alternatives ("Privacy and Access"), at 12-13, 25-28 (1999).

26 489 U.S. 749, 762 (1989).

27 Id. at 762.

28 Id. at 764.

29 Privacy and Access, supra note 24, at 12.

30 See Cal. Gov't Code § 6254(f).

31 Reporters Committee, 489 U.S. at 751-53.

32 Id. at 764-65.

33 5 U.S.C. § 552a.

34 See Barry v. United States Dep't of Justice, 63 F. Supp. 2d 25, 26 (D.D.C. 1999) ("the Privacy Act does not apply to information that has already been fully disclosed to the public"; release of critical report about plaintiff on Internet is not actionable if report was previously released by others); cf. Favish v. Office of Independent Counsel, 217 F.3d 1168, 1173 (9th Cir. 2000) (reversing summary judgment for government in FOIA suit for release of crime scene photos of Vincent Foster suicide; "Strictly speaking, it is not 'the production' of the records that would cause the harm suggested by the declaration but their exploitation by the media including publication on the Internet.").

35 But see infra note 36.

36 In any event, the debate may be overblown. Courts generally require users to obtain passwords to access information. As an example, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California requires a password to obtain access to its "Electronic Case Files System." See Other courts are imposing a seven-cent-per-page charge for access, as allowed by statute. See 28 USC §1930 (b). The need to obtain passwords - and the costs for access - will make it difficult for web surfers to freely and easily search every bankruptcy court in the country for dirt on friends or foes.

37 435 U.S. 589 (1977).

38 Id. at 603.

39 Id. at 609.

40 See, e.g., Yes! We Should Have Full Access to Bankruptcy Records on the Internet, Bankruptcy Court Decisions; News & Comment, August 4, 1998 ("Private vendors are already downloading information from court files and archiving it permanently . . . .").

41 Id.

42 Id.

43 Fabulous Associates, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Comm'n, 896 F.2d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 1990) (quoting Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943)).

44 American Civil Liberties Union, 31 F. Supp. 2d at 480 n.2 (quoting Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748 (1976); citing cases).

45 Yes! We Should Have Full Access to Bankruptcy Records on the Internet, Bankruptcy Court Decisions; News & Comment, August 4, 1998.

46 American Civil Liberties Union, 31 F. Supp. 2d at 476.

47 See Mauro, supra note 5.

48 Special Issue: Public Records vs. Privacy Rights Should You Be Able to Access Bankruptcy Files from the Internet?, Bankruptcy Court Decisions: News & Comment, August 4, 1998.