CBS (CHICAGO) – If you’ve ever received a traffic ticket in Cook County, your personal information could be a click away.
2 Investigator Brad Edwards sat down with Mary Nisi, the woman who’s suing Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown in hopes of protecting your privacy.
“This is one way in which somebody who is barely crafty could pull it together to steal your information and run wild with it,” Nisi says.
Nisi got a speeding ticket in Arlington Heights in 2005.
Now, personal information such as her date of birth, address, license plate number, driver’s license number and more can be found in the clerk’s office.
“Almost anyone who has received a traffic ticket in Cook County is impacted by this,” says Nisi’s attorney Steve Uhrich.
In her lawsuit, Nisi accuses Brown of violating the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. The law, passed in 1994, prevents the disclosure of personal information found in state motor vehicle records. It came about after the 1989 murder of sitcom star Rebecca Schaeffer by a stalker who found the actress’s information through motor vehicle records.
“It’s stunning, that in this day in age, this type of information is out there,” Uhrich says.
Just how easy is the information to find?
Edwards followed Uhrich to the clerk’s office computers at the Daley Center and found the personal information of Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and more.
“This information should always be under lock and key,” says Darren Guccione, a cyber-security expert and CEO of Chicago-based Keeper Security Inc. “It looks like there’s a big problem that needs to be examined.”
Uhrich says the lawsuit asks a judge to order Brown to fix the problem. At today’s hearing, Brown’s office was given until August 8 to respond.
The embattled clerk is running for mayor, despite reports that she’s under federal investigation. Her office has been dogged for years by complaints of antiquated computer systems.
A Brown spokeswoman says the office doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
But in a statement adds, “All information displayed on Public Access Terminals in the Clerk’s Office is in compliance with federal and state laws and Illinois Supreme Court rules.”
We checked with court clerk offices in neighboring counties and found that in DuPage, Lake and Will, for example, the same personal information is available at the public terminals.