FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Aug. 9, 1996

Commercial access work group establishes web site, sets next meeting

OLYMPIA -- The group appointed by Gov. Mike Lowry to examine public policy questions related to the commercial release of government electronic records wants to know what Washington residents think of its work, through a new site on the World Wide Web.

Interested persons may access information about the group, including its purpose and plans, at Governor's Work Group on Commercial Access to Government Electronic Records, and are encouraged to offer comments.

"These issues affect just about everybody in the state, and we seek diverse viewpoints," Lowry said of the group's web site. "In light of what happened this week in Oregon, where someone used the public record law to purchase the state's motor vehicle database, then posted that information on the Internet, I think it's vitally important that we raise these issues surrounding the release of government electronic records and look for sensible resolution."

The release of public lists of individuals for commercial purposes is restricted under Washington's Open Records Act, except when authorized by legislation. The number of laws creating exemptions to the restriction has grown since the Act was created in 1972 by citizen initiative.

Gov. Lowry directed the 13-member work 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 also will examine how agencies should allocate and recover costs of making such information available. Its recommendations are due in November to the Governor, who may use them to prepare legislation.

Citizens may offer comments in person at the next work group meeting Aug. 21, from 1 to 5 p.m. in Hearing Room 4 of the John L. Cherberg Building in Olympia. Citizens may still mail comments to:

Governor's Work Group
P.O. Box 42445
Olympia, 98504-422

or send comments via electronic mail to Comment@dis.wa.gov

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

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For more information, contact Eric Campbell at the Department of Information Services at 360-407-5282 or call the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.