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The Florida Senate

2021 Florida Statutes

SECTION 2221
Electronic access to official records.
F.S. 28.2221
28.2221 Electronic access to official records.
(1) The Legislature finds that a proper and legitimate state purpose is served by providing the public with access to public records and information on the Internet. The Legislature further finds that a proper and legitimate state purpose is also served by preventing disclosure of records and information made exempt by law from public disclosure.
(2)(a) The county recorder in each county must provide a current index of documents recorded in the official records of the county for the period beginning no later than January 1, 1990, on a publicly available Internet website which must also contain a document requisition point for obtaining images or copies of the documents reflected in the index and which has the capability of electronically providing the index data to a central statewide search site. The index must be limited to grantor and grantee names, party names, date, book and page number, comments, and type of record.
(b) Unless otherwise required by the court, a county recorder may not remove the grantor name, grantee name, or party name from the register of the Official Records, as described in s. 28.222(2), and the index on the publicly available Internet website on the basis of an exemption as defined in s. 119.011 unless the name of the grantor or grantee includes the street address portion of the home address as defined in s. 119.071(4)(d), in which case the county recorder must remove the street address portion from display. Home addresses, as defined in s. 119.071(4)(d), which are exempt from inspection or copying under s. 119.071 must be included within the Official Records as described in s. 28.222(2) but may not be included within the index or otherwise displayed on the county recorder’s publicly available Internet website on which images or copies of the county’s official records are placed.
(3) Each county recorder shall use appropriate Internet security measures to ensure that no person has the ability to alter or to modify records placed on the Internet by the county recorder.
(4) Unless otherwise provided by law, no information retrieved electronically pursuant to this section shall be admissible in court as an authenticated document.
(5)(a) A county recorder may not place on a publicly available Internet website for general public display information made exempt from inspection or copying under s. 119.071 or any image or copy of a public record, including an official record, if that image or copy is of a military discharge; death certificate; or a court file, record, or paper relating to matters or cases governed by the Florida Rules of Family Law, the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, or the Florida Probate Rules.
(b) Any records specified in this subsection made available by the county recorder or clerk of the court on a publicly available Internet website for general public display prior to June 5, 2002, must be removed if the affected party identifies the record and requests that it be removed. Such request must be in writing and delivered by mail, facsimile, or electronic transmission, or in person to the county recorder or clerk of the court. The request must specify the identification page number of the document to be removed. No fee may be charged for the removal of a document pursuant to such request.
(c) Notice of the right of any affected party to request removal of information or records pursuant to this subsection must be conspicuously and clearly displayed by the county recorder on the publicly available Internet website on which images or copies of the county’s public records are placed and in the office of each county recorder. Such notice must contain appropriate instructions for making the removal request in person, by mail, or by electronic transmission. The notice must state, in substantially similar form, that any person has a right to request that a county recorder remove from a publicly available Internet website information made exempt from inspection or copying under s. 119.071 or an image or copy of a public record, including an official record, if that image or copy is of a military discharge; death certificate; or a court file, record, or paper relating to matters or cases governed by the Florida Rules of Family Law, the Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure, or the Florida Probate Rules. The notice must state that information removed as exempt under s. 119.071 will not be removed from the Official Records as described in s. 28.222(2). Such request must be made in writing and delivered in person, by mail, or by electronic transmission to the county recorder. The request must identify the Official Records book and page number, instrument number, or clerk’s file number for any information or document to be removed. For requests for removal from a person claiming a public records exemption pursuant to s. 119.071, the request must be written; 1be notarized; state under oath the statutory basis for removal of the information, image, or copy that is restricted from general public display on the county recorder’s publicly available Internet website; and confirm the individual’s eligibility for exempt status. A party making a false attestation is subject to the penalty of perjury under s. 837.012. A fee may not be charged for the removal of a document pursuant to such request.
(d) Any affected person may petition the circuit court for an order directing compliance with this subsection.
(e) By January 1, 2006, each county recorder or clerk of the court shall provide for electronic retrieval, at a minimum, of images of documents referenced as the index required to be maintained on the county’s official records website by this section.
(6)(a) Any information restricted from general public display, inspection, or copying under paragraph (5)(a) pursuant to a request for removal made under s. 119.071 must be provided at any time to the individual whose information was removed. The written request for the restricted information must be by sworn affidavit consistent with s. 92.50 and must include the Official Records book and page number, the instrument number, or the clerk’s file number for any information or document to be released, and a description of the lawful purpose, and identify the individual or property that is the subject of the search. Any party making a false attestation is subject to the penalty of perjury under s. 837.012. A fee may not be charged for the production of any document pursuant to such request.
(b)1. For the purpose of conducting a title search, as defined in s. 627.7711(4), of the Official Records, as described in s. 28.222(2), and upon presentation of photo identification and affirmation by sworn affidavit consistent with s. 92.50 to the county recorder, information restricted from public display, inspection, or copying under paragraph (5)(a) pursuant to a request for removal made under s. 119.071(4)(d) may be disclosed to:
a. A title insurer authorized pursuant to s. 624.401 and its affiliates as defined in s. 624.10;
b. A title insurance agent or title insurance agency as defined in s. 626.841(1) and (2), respectively; or
c. An attorney duly admitted to practice law in this state and in good standing with The Florida Bar.
2. The photo identification and affirmation by sworn affidavit may be delivered in person, by mail, or by electronic transmission to the county recorder.
3. The affiant requestor must attest to his or her authority and the authorized purpose to access exempt information pursuant to this section for the property specified within the sworn affidavit.
4. The affiant requestor must identify the Official Records book and page number, instrument number, or the clerk’s file number for each document requested within the sworn affidavit and must include a description of the lawful purpose and identify the individual or property that is the subject of the search within the sworn affidavit.
5. Affidavits submitted by a title insurer, title insurance agent, or title insurance agency must include the Florida Company Code or the license number, as applicable, and an attestation to the affiant requestor’s authorization to transact business in this state. Affidavits submitted by an attorney authorized under this section must include the affiant requestor’s Florida Bar number and a statement that the affiant requestor has an agency agreement with a title insurer directly or through his or her law firm.
6. The county recorder must record such affidavit in the Official Records, as described in s. 28.222(2), but may not place the image or copy of the affidavit on a publicly available Internet website for general public display.
7. Upon providing a document disclosing redacted information to an affiant requestor under this section, the county recorder must provide a copy of the affidavit requesting disclosure of the redacted information to each affected party at the address listed on the document or on the request for removal made by the affected party under s. 119.071. The county recorder must prepare a certificate of mailing to be affixed to the affidavit and must receive the statutory service charges as prescribed by s. 28.24 from the affiant requestor.
8. Any party making a false attestation under this section is subject to the penalty of perjury under s. 837.012.
(7) A person who uses any official record in a manner not authorized in this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A person who unlawfully uses any official record with intent to cause bodily harm or with intent to threaten to cause bodily harm commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(8)(a) Each county recorder or clerk of the court must make the identity of each respondent against whom a final judgment for an injunction for the protection of a minor under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s. 784.0485 is entered, as well as the fact that a final judgment for an injunction for the protection of a minor under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s. 784.0485 has been entered against that respondent, publicly available on an Internet website for general public display, which may include the Internet website required by this section, unless the respondent is a minor.
(b) Any information specified in this subsection not made available by the county recorder or clerk of the court on a publicly available Internet website for general public display before July 1, 2021, must be made publicly available on an Internet website if the affected party identifies the information and requests that such information be added to a publicly available Internet website for general public display. Such request must be in writing and delivered by mail, facsimile, or electronic transmission or in person to the county recorder or clerk of the court. The request must specify the case number assigned to the final judgment for an injunction for the protection of a minor under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s. 784.0485. A fee may not be charged for the addition of information pursuant to such request.
(c) No later than 30 days after July 1, 2021, notice of the right of any affected party to request the addition of information to a publicly available Internet website pursuant to this subsection shall be conspicuously and clearly displayed by the county recorder or clerk of the court on the publicly available Internet website on which images or copies of the county’s public records are placed and in the office of each county recorder or clerk of the court. Such notice must contain appropriate instructions for making the addition of information request in person, by mail, by facsimile, or by electronic transmission. The notice must state, in substantially similar form, that any person has a right to request that a county recorder or clerk of the court add information to a publicly available Internet website if that information involves the identity of a respondent against whom a final judgment for an injunction for the protection of a minor under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s. 784.0485 is entered, unless the respondent is a minor. Such request must be made in writing and delivered by mail, facsimile, or electronic transmission or in person to the county recorder or clerk of the court. The request must specify the case number assigned to the final judgment for an injunction for the protection of a minor under s. 741.30, s. 784.046, or s. 784.0485. A fee may not be charged for the addition of a document pursuant to such request.
(d) Any affected person may petition the circuit court for an order directing compliance with this subsection.
History.s. 2, ch. 2000-164; ss. 2, 4, ch. 2002-302; s. 2, ch. 2021-215; s. 2, ch. 2021-231.
1Note.The word “be” was inserted by the editors.