Rule 21c. PRIVACY PROTECTION FOR FILED DOCUMENTS [Effective January 1, 2014] (As amended through January 15, 2014) provides privacy protection for sensitive data in filed documents.
“Sensitive Data” is defined as a driver’s license number, social security number, tax ID number, or similar government-issued personal ID number; a bank account number, credit card number, or other financial account number; and a birth date, home address, and the name of any person who was a minor when the underlying suit was filed. See Tex. R. Civ. P 21c(a). Any part of such an ID number or account number is considered sensitive data. Under this definition, almost every document filed in a family law case contains sensitive data.
Unless the inclusion of sensitive data is specifically required by a statute, court rule, or administrative regulation, an electronic or paper document, except for wills and documents filed under seal, containing sensitive data may not be filed with a court unless the sensitive data is redacted. Tex. R. Civ. P. 21c(b).
Sensitive data must be redacted by using the letter “X” in place of each omitted digit or character or by removing the sensitive data in a manner indicating that the data has been redacted. The filing party must retain an unredacted version of the filed document during the pendency of the case and any related appellate proceedings filed within six months of the date the judgment is signed. Tex. R. Civ. P. 21c(c).
If a document must contain unredacted sensitive data, the filing party must notify the clerk by: designating the document as containing sensitive data when the document is electronically filed, or if the document is not electronically filed, by including, on the upper lefthand side of the first page, the phrase: “NOTICE: THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS SENSITIVE DATA.” Tex. R. Civ. P. 21c(d). The rule does not prohibit the inclusion of the notice phrase for documents that are filed electronically, thus it makes sense to include the notice phrase on all documents containing sensitive data, whether filed electronically or not.
The clerk may not refuse to file a document that contains sensitive data in violation of this rule. But the clerk may identify the error to be corrected and state a deadline for the party to resubmit a redacted, substitute document. Tex. R. Civ. P. 21c(e).
Documents that contain sensitive data in violation of this rule must not be posted on the internet. Tex. R. Civ. P. 21c(f)