Lowry convenes work group to study commercial use of restricted public records

OLYMPIA - Gov. Mike Lowry today convened a work group to examine public policy questions raised by the release of restricted electronic government records for commercial purposes.

Washington's Open Records Act, created by citizen initiative in 1972, specifically prohibits release of public lists of individuals for commercial purposes, except when authorized by legislation. Over the years, a growing number of laws have created exemptions to the prohibition. Two bills vetoed by Lowry this year would have created additional exemptions.

"Because the shift from paper to electronic records has made it easier to learn intimate details of a person's life, the state must take a look at how it participates in having our residents targeted as consumers," Lowry said. "By developing a sound policy now, I hope we can avoid having important principles of government be determined by a slow accumulation of exceptions to the law."

The Governor directed the group to consider under what circumstances restricted records in electronic format should be released for commercial purposes, with particular emphasis on safeguarding the privacy rights of individuals who are subjects of those records. The group will also debate how agencies should allocate and recover costs of making such information available, and will send its recommendations to the governor this fall for possible legislation.

Steve Kolodney, director of the Department of Information Services, will serve as chairman of the work group. Other members include: Kent Caputo, Governor's legal counsel; State Rep. Phil Dyer; Kathy Baros Friedt, director, Department of Licensing; State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen; Chip Holcomb, assistant attorney general; Dennis Karras, director, Department of Personnel; Bruce Miyahara, secretary, Department of Health; Gary Moore, commissioner, Department of Employment Security; Lyle Quasim, secretary, Department of Social and Health Services; State Sen. George Sellar; State Rep. Cathy Wolfe; and Nancy Zussy, state librarian.

The group will seek public input at its meetings, via mail and through electronic means.


For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.