Monday, June 8, 2009

California Vital Records Redaction

My CGSSD colleague Joan Lowrey discovered something on a recent trip to the San Diego County Recorder's Office. She was told that death certificates for persons dying in 1997 and later are not available until the signatures and Social Security Number on the certificate have been redacted for privacy reasons, and that it was happening in Sacramento.

Here is what Joan found after researching it on the Internet:

Found this at :

"Please note: Effective April 27, 2009, San Bernardino County will implement the California Department of Public Health’s “Vital Records Image Redaction and Statewide Access” program. This will allow staff to access a single State database for requesting automatically redacted informational-only copies of birth records from 1985-present and death records from 1996-present. These certificates will show black redaction boxes across any signatures or social security numbers."

At :

Senator Ellen M. Corbett, Chair 2009-2010 Regular Session

Senator Correa
As Amended March 9, 2009
Hearing Date: March 24, 2009
Civil Code; Family Code; Health & Safety Code


"This bill would impose a number of restrictions on the use
of social security numbers in public records.
Specifically, this bill would:
* provide that a document containing more than the
last 4 digits of social security number is not
entitled for recording;
* provide also that a recorder shall be deemed to be
in compliance if he or she uses due diligence to
locate social security numbers in documents presented
for recording;
* require an abstract of judgment to contain only the
last 4 digits of the social security number of the
party who is ordered to pay spousal, child, or family
* require that only the last 4 digits of a person's
social security number be displayed on birth and death

The HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTION 103525-103595 does not include the redaction provisions yet.

This is not wonderful news for researchers that request birth certificates for 1985 and later or death certificates for 1996 and later. I don't recall seeing SSNs on birth certificates, but they definitely are on death certificates.

The problem isn't the redaction, but the delay in getting a certificate if it is one of those sent off to Sacramento to be redacted - it won't be available at the local offices.

Thank you to Joan Lowrey for bringing this to my attention and doing the legwork to track down what is happening.

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