In January 2014, The SC Supreme Court amended the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure (SCRCP) to add the following rule:
RULE 41.2 – PRIVACY PROTECTION FOR FILINGS
(a) Redaction. A person filing a document in paper or electronic format shall not include, or will redact where inclusion is necessary, the following personal identifying information.
(1) Social Security Numbers, Taxpayer Identification Numbers, Driver’s License Numbers, Passport Numbers or Any Other Personal Identifying Numbers. If it is necessary to include personal identifying numbers in a document, the parties should utilize some other identifier. Parties shall not include any portion of a social security number in a filing.
(2) Names of Minor Children. If a minor is the victim of a sexual assault or the victim in an abuse or neglect case, the minor’s name must be completely redacted and a term such as “victim” or “child” should be used. In all other cases, the minor’s first name and first initial of the last name (i.e., John S.), or only the minor’s initials (i.e., J.S.) should be used.
(3) Financial Account Numbers, Including Any Type of Bank Account Numbers, Personal Identification Number (PIN) Code, or Passwords. If financial account numbers are relevant, only the last four digits of these numbers should be used.
(4) Home Addresses of Minors, Sexual Assault and Abuse and Neglect Victims, and Non-Parties. If a home address of a minor, sexual assault victim, or non-party must be included, only the city and state should be used.
(5) Date of Birth. If a date of birth must be included, only the year of birth should be included.
Easy access to electronic court records raises privacy concerns. This rule details the type of personal information that parties are required to redact in court filings. Parties preparing or filing documents are prohibited from filing documents which contain personal identifying information delineated in S.C. Code Ann. § 30-2-330(A). Parties should exercise caution and refrain from including any unnecessary personal identifying information in court filings so as to limit the necessity of redacting documents. Furthermore, parties should exercise caution in including other sensitive personal data in filings, such as medical records, employment history, individual financial information, proprietary or trade secret information, information regarding an individual’s cooperation with the government, information regarding the victim of any criminal activity, or national security information.
(b) Reference Lists. Where personal data identifiers are relevant to an issue in the case, a filing that contains redacted information may be filed together with a confidential reference list that identifies each item of redacted information and specifies an appropriate identifier that uniquely corresponds to each item listed. The list must be filed as a confidential document, which is not available to the public, and may be amended as of right. The confidential reference list shall not be made available on the Case Management System Public Index and may only be viewed by the parties and the court and staff. Any reference in the case to a listed identifier will be construed to refer to the corresponding item of information. No order of the court is required to file a reference list.
Paragraph (b) provides for the same procedure as provided in Rule 5.2(g) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and permits parties to file a reference list to accompany a redacted filing. Parties should only file a reference list if the redacted information is relevant to an issue in the case or necessary to understand the filing.
(c) Responsibility to Redact. The clerks of court and their staff will not review filings for redaction or to determine if materials should be sealed pursuant to Rule 41.1, SCRCP. The responsibility for ensuring that information is redacted or sealed rests with counsel and the parties.
(d) Limitations on Remote Access to Electronic Files. Some documents or images that are filed may be removed from the Case Management System Public Index.
(1) The clerk of court may remove documents, exhibits, or other filings that may be highly inflammatory or otherwise potentially harmful.
(2) Documents, exhibits, or other filings which are removed under paragraph (d)(1) may be viewed at the courthouse.
(e) Requests to Remove. An individual may request that a clerk of court remove, from an image or copy of an official record placed on the Case Management System Public Index, any data which should have been redacted under paragraph (a) of this rule.
(1) Any request to remove data which should not have been included or should have been redacted in accordance with paragraph (a) must be made in writing, legibly signed by the requester, and delivered by mail, facsimile, electronic transmission, or in person to the clerk of court. The request must specify the document and the page number of the document that contains information to be redacted.
(2) The clerk of court has no duty to inquire beyond the written request to verify the identity of an individual requesting redaction.
(3) A fee must not be charged for the redaction pursuant to the request.
Paragraph (e) of this rule is consistent with the requirements of S.C. Code Ann. § 30-2-330(B).
Adopted by Order dated April 15, 2014.