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The House Civil Law committee heard the League-endorsed bill that would protect the privacy of citizen contact information.
(Published Jan 24, 2013)
On January 23, the House Civil Law committee heard testimony on HF 20 (Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley), a bill that would prevent third parties from accessing email addresses and phone numbers submitted by citizens to all levels of government. LMC Board member Chris Tolbert, councilmember St. Paul testified that the hill was necessary to protect citizen data from unwanted use by third parties. Currently when a citizen submits contact information to a government agency in order to receive newsletters, crime alerts, or other information, all of the email addresses and phone numbers maintained by the government agency are public data. Any third party can request the data and use it for any purpose. During the last election cycle, several cities received requests for citizen email addresses resulting in unexpected and unwelcomed email solicitation.
Rep. Freiberg, a former councilmember from Golden Valley, noted that citizens in Golden Valley would be surprised to learn that the email addresses are public. Both Tolbert and Freiberg expressed concern that citizens would stop signing up to receive information if they were concerned about the privacy and security of their email addresses. The listservs are a cost-effective way to get citizens information in a timely manner and promote government transparency.
HF 20 was laid over and will be considered for inclusion in an omnibus data practices bill. The Senate bill is authored by former Little Canada councilmember Bev Scalze (DFL-Little Canada). Both the Senate and House bills have bipartisan support.
Questions? Contact Patrick Hynes at 651-281-1260 or at email@example.com.
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