Privacy Protections

Below are matters in bankruptcy cases and adversary proceedings that are affected by privacy policies and rules:

Federal Income Tax Returns - On September 20, 2005, the Judicial Conference approved guidance that set limits on access to debtor's tax information restricting from viewing in PACER Income Tax Returns filed under 11 U.S.C. § 521.

Filer's Responsibility - All filers must redact: Social Security or taxpayer-identification numbers; dates of birth, names of minor children; and financial account numbers, in compliance with Fed.R.Bankr.P.9037. This requirement applies to all documents and claims, including attachments.

Non-Redacted Documents - Pursuant to Local Bankruptcy Rule 9037-1, if a document is filed which fails to comply with Fed.R.Bankr.P.9037(a), the filing party shall file a redacted version of the document and request the clerk to restrict access to the non-redacted document.

Sealed Documents - Pursuant to Local Bankruptcy Rule 9018-1, a document may be sealed or filed under seal by a court order. A sealed document is restricted from viewing.

Social Security Number - In December 2003, a new subdivision (f) was added to Fed.R.Bankr.P. 1007 which required an individual debtor to submit to the court a statement under penalty of perjury setting out the debtor's full Social Security number, or stating that the debtor does not have a Social Security number. The Statement of Social Security Number is restricted from viewing in PACER.

The "Notice of Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors, & Deadlines", sent to parties in a case, is the only document which includes the debtor's full Social Security number.

Transcripts In September 2007, the Judicial Conference adopted a policy regarding the electronic availability of transcripts. Transcripts will no longer be made available for viewing on PACER until ninety (90) days from the date of the filing of the transcript. Any person requiring a copy of the transcript before that time may purchase a copy from the transcriber or view the document at the clerk's office public terminal.

The redaction policy of personal identifier information in a transcript is also in effect. Personal identifiers to be redacted are Social Security numbers, names of minor children, financial account numbers and dates of birth. The process to redact information in a transcript is included in the Judicial Conference Policy on Privacy and Public Access to Electronic Case Files.

Closed Cases filed before December 1, 2003 - On September 14, 2010, the Judicial Conference amended the policy on privacy and public access to electronic case files by restricting public access through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service to documents in bankruptcy cases that were filed before December 1, 2003, and have been closed for more than one year. The docket sheet and docket information will remain available to the general public via PACER and the documents will remain accessible at the clerks' offices.

 

The Judicial Conference Policy on Privacy and Public Access to Electronic Case Files (also known as the Privacy Policy) has undergone a number of changes since its adoption in 2001. It now works in conjunction with the Federal Rules of Procedure to protect privacy interests in federal court filings available on the Internet.