The ongoing breach affecting thousands of organizations that relied on hacked products by network software firm SolarWinds may have jeopardized the privacy of countless sealed court documents on file with the U.S. federal court system, according to a memo from the Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S. Courts.


The memo states: 


Under the new procedures announced today, highly sensitive court documents (HSDs) filed with federal courts will be accepted for filing in paper form or via a secure electronic device, such as a thumb drive, and stored in a secure stand-alone computer system. These sealed HSDs will not be uploaded to CM/ECF. This new practice will not change current policies regarding public access to court records, since sealed records are confidential and currently are not available to the public.


If they have not done so already, courts will issue standing or general orders regarding these new procedures. While they are intended to apply to all HSDs filed with a court, not all currently sealed filings should be considered an HSD. It is anticipated that court orders will address the type of filings a court does and does not consider to be HSDs. For example, most documents similar to and including presentence reports, pretrial release reports, pleadings related to cooperation in most criminal cases, Social Security records, administrative immigration records, and sealed filings in many civil cases likely would not be sufficiently sensitive to require HSD treatment and could continue to be sealed in CM/ECF as necessary. Each court’s standing or general order or equivalent procedure should address the types of filings it does and does not consider to be HSDs. Courts will work with their local bar regarding implementation of the new case filing procedures.


This highlights the necessity of strong cybersecurity protections. If your firm needs enhanced information security, contact an Innovative Computing Systems Account Executive at [email protected] or call 1-800-541-0450.