US House passes bill to tear down judiciary’s paywall

Enlarge / Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) is the lead sponsor of the Open Courts Act in the House. (credit: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Open Courts Act. The bill aims to modernize PACER, the website that provides public access to federal court records. It also aims to eliminate PACER’s paywall by 2025.
The PACER system represented a big advance for judicial transparency when it went online in the 1990s. But the system hasn’t kept up with the times, with a user interface that has changed little since the days of dial-up Internet.
Each federal trial and bankruptcy court—around 200 courts in total—has its own distinct PACER website, with limited capabilities to search across multiple sites. Not only is this inconvenient for users, but maintaining dozens of separate websites is an administrative headache.Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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