by Marc KovacCapital Bureau ChiefColumbus -- Legislation being considered in the state Senate may force office holders and agencies to stop offering online access to public documents, the head of the Ohio Recorders Association said May 22.Dan Crank, Butler County Recorder and president-elected of the state group, told members of the Judiciary-Civil Justice Committee that Senate Bill 6, while addressing issues related to identity theft, could unintentionally make access to public documents more difficult."The Ohio Recorders Association believes in the goal of protecting Ohioans' privacy," he said. "SB 6 advances that goal, but we seek to ensure that the legislation does not unintentionally create additional problems and loopholes and that public records remain public records."The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond), would allow Ohioans to place freezes on their credit reports, effectively disallowing anyone from opening credit in their name.Other provisions prohibit public offices from offering electronic copies of public documents without first redacting confidential personal information, including Social Security numbers, driver's license or state identification card numbers or financial account information.Crank said the Ohio Recorders Association supports the redaction of Social Security numbers from documents available online. He said many recorders offices in the state already are doing so.Other identification numbers present a problem, however; they differ in format and can be more difficult to find, he said. And redacting those numbers from documents dating back 20 years would take time and funding -- the process would cost his county office $185,000, Crank said."The difficulty in locating and redacting other identifying numbers, such as federal tax ID numbers and financial account numbers, would likely lead many county recorders to remove all public records from their Web sites rather than risk violating the law," he said.The Records Association has concerns about redacting information from official records of peace officer, prosecutors and public servants."Altering publicly filed documents creates a number of potential complications," Crank said. "Land title searches, conducted every times a piece of land changes hands, rely on establishing a clean bill of title. The proposed bill would require our offices to permanently change and modify public records."Marc Kovac is the Dix Newspapers Capital Bureau chief. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.