Harlan Yu of the Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP), and Stephen Schultze of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, have published Using software to liberate U.S. case law, in XRDS: Crossroads: The ACM Magazine for Students, December 2011.
[The article appears in a special issue of XRDS: Crossroads on the topic, "Computer Science in Service of Democracy", edited by Peter Kinnaird of Carnegie Mellon University. Click here for Mr. Kinnaird's preface to the special issue.]
In their article, Mr. Yu and Mr. Schultze describe their development of RECAP, a Firefox extension that “crowdsources the purchase of the [U.S. federal courts'] PACER repository [of court records] by helping users automatically share their purchases.”
The authors also describe how features of PACER limit public access to judicial information. The authors discuss their research — presented here and here — showing that PACER’s information management practices permit disclosure of sensitive personal information online. The authors also recommend reforms to U.S. federal court information technology that would protect citizens’ privacy while improving citizens’ access to court records of public interest.
For more information on RECAP and reform of PACER, please see Mr. Schultze’s VoxPopuLII post: PACER, RECAP, and the Movement to Free American Case Law.