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After passing the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Citizen Email Protection provision is on both the House and Senate Floors.
(Published Mar 25, 2013)
The citizen email protection legislation, one of the League’s legislative priorities for 2013, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 4-2, and was also included in the Omnibus Data Practices Bill (SF 745, Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis) that was passed to the Senate Floor on March 21. Similar language was passed by the House Civil Law Committee as Section 1 of the Omnibus Data Practices Bill (HF 695, Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park) on March 15th. Both Sen. Dziedzic and Rep. Simon have expressed support for the citizen email provision.
The legislation would make email addresses and phone numbers submitted to cities by individuals private data, if they were submitted to receive information of a general nature from the city.
Under current law, if a city collects an email address or phone number from a citizen, the email address becomes public data, and must be given to any person who asks for it. Email addresses and phone numbers can be used by solicitors, telemarketers, campaign organizations, or even by those attempting to scam citizens out of more sensitive personal information. A citizen testifying in favor of the legislation told committee members that he first felt betrayed by the city of Roseville for disclosing his email address, and when he was told that state law gave the city no choice, he felt betrayed by the state.
The League believes that no citizen’s email address or phone number should have to be given to a third party simply because the citizen has asked the government to provide him or her with updates about city business or schedules.
The Judiciary Committee amended the bill to clarify that the email addresses and phone numbers submitted to a city may only be used for the specific purposes for which the information was provided. For example, if a citizen asked a city to send a text message regarding a snow emergency, the city could not send a text message regarding the status of a construction project.
Both the House and Senate files await action by their respective bodies. The Legislature generally shifts its focus to budget matters after the second committee deadline, so it may be some time before the bills are debated on the floor.
Questions? Contact Patrick Hynes at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (651) 281-1260.
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