FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 11, 1996
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
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.