A provision that required seekers of online information about Middletown government to identify themselves has been removed from the township’s newly refurbished website, the Asbury Park Press reports today.


Likewise, a similar feature included in Fair Haven’s website also appears to have been taken down.

The Press reports that access to Middletown Township Committee agendas, minutes and ordinances was opened up Monday after complaints that a registration provision constituted an invasion of privacy. Before the change, users were required to provide a name, email address and telephone number.

From the Press:

Township Clerk Heidi Abs said the registration requirement was changed because of an upcoming shared service agreement between the township and Monmouth County for a records management system. That service will not make users register to view meeting agendas and minutes, she said.

The Web site has been a work in progress, shaped by input from users, Abs said.

“I think we were always moving in that direction” to change registration requirements for a portion of the site, she said.

The Press quotes Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger, who said that the registration requirement “was meant to be . . . helpful, not intrusive.”

Committeeman Patrick Short said he did not understand why there was a registration requirement to access information that should have been provided freely.

“The restrictions shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but I’m just happy now — whatever the reason — that they’ve been removed,” he said.

In a recent interview, Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre told redbankgreen that that town’s site, too, is something of a work in progress, but that obstacles to information were in the process of being removed.

“We don’t want people to have to register to get agendas” and other documents that anyone could get from borough hall without identifying himself or herself, Halfacre said. “I don’t want to set it up where some people have access to information and others don’t,” Halfacre said.

Halfacre said he thought the registration provision “was stupid” when he read that it had been built into the Middltown site. “Then it shows up on our site,” which debuted after an overhaul about a week ago.

This morning, a check of the site found that access to borough agendas was unrestricted. But a “contact us” link on the site opens up a “citizen login” box that requires users to provide an e-mail address and password, and to register if they don’t yet have a password.

A page allowing for voluntary “citizen registration” is still in place.

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