County tables idea to allow DSS to search online accounts

NORWICH – A proposal that would permit the Chenango County Department of Social Services to utilize special software to search welfare applicants’ various online accounts was tabled at the monthly county Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, following a back and forth debate concerning the DSS policy for said software and the restrictions it should entail.

The proposal would allow Chenango County DSS to enter an agreement with the tech company LexisNexis - a provider of legal, government, business and high-tech information software - for use of the company’s software program called Accurint. Accurint is capable of searching online public information from all over the country, including criminal databases, real property tax records, and DMV records.

A similar resolution went before the Board in May, but was returned to the county’s Health and Human Services Committee for further review. The Board had requested that a stricter user policy be established before adopting a resolution of authorization with LexisNexis. The original agreement would also have authorized DSS to use Accurint to monitor popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for leads on cases of possible welfare fraud, but the ability to do so was kept out of the newly proposed agreement that went before the county board this week.

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