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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Protecting Victim Privacy by Redacting Identifying Information

May 16, 2011

Disclosure of private information about victims is yet another revictimization in the aftermath of crime.  Many state constitutions and statutes, in addition to federal protections, guarantee victims privacy rights as well as the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect for their privacy.  NCVLI recently provided technical assistance to a state office of crime victim services in support of the office’s decision to redact identifying victim information from documents that were produced in response to a civil discovery request.

Courts have acknowledged that disseminating identifying information causes the victims of crime unnecessary emotional pain and violates victims’ desire to maintain their privacy.  In most situations, victim names and other sensitive identifying information serve no useful public or investigative purpose that would outweigh the victim’s right to privacy.  Redaction is a simple way to protect victims and still afford necessary information to requesters in civil cases.  Protecting victim privacy is critical to supporting crime victims and we need to be vigilant in this day and age of easy dissemination of information.