Data Classification: Public Data

So far in this series of Data Classification articles, we’ve talked about each type of data at a glance and have gone in depth on Consumer Marketing Data. This time we’re going to take a deep dive into Public Data.

Though the name implies that the data is publicly available (and therefore unrestricted), when we say, “public data” we’re talking about data that belongs to the public because it’s paid for by taxes. It’s produced by government entities or government agencies. It can still contain PII (names, DOBs, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) and it can still have legal restrictions in how it can be used.

The some of the more common types and sources of public data are listed below:


Type Source
Criminal Convictions State and County Courthouses
Sex Offender State Sex Offender Registries
Arrests Police Stations and Sheriff’s Offices
Incarcerations State Departments of Corrections
Property County Auditors
Bankruptcies Federal Government (PACER)
Liens and Judgments County Courthouses (Civil)
Evictions County Courthouses (Civil)
Marriages and Divorces County Courthouses (Probate)
Motor Vehicle Registrations and Infractions State Department of Motor Vehicles


Depending on the type and source of data, the information available in each record may be minimal (just a name and case number) or it may be quite extensive and include things like a full DOB, address, and case details.

So how does a data vendor like Martin Data acquire these records? It’s a daunting task – there are more than 3,000 across the United States and they each house their data differently. Some counties put their data online for members of the public to easily download or search the database. Others require you to physically go to the or agency to collect it in person. Compiling a comprehensive database for any of these data types can be incredibly difficult. Vendors in this industry often rely on each other to fill holes in coverage.

If you’re having trouble filling holes in your datasets, please contact one of our sales associates.

The authors of the information presented on this page are not attorneys nor are they affiliated with attorneys. The information presented on this page does not constitute legal advice. Before acting on any of the information obtained from this page or any others on this website, please consult your own legal counsel.
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