Is Your Email Address Safe in the Hands of a Government Agency? Publisher Demands Mailing List from City Council

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Now here’s an interesting showdown with potentially far-reaching ramifications.

The location:


o Mar Vista, a suburb of Los Angeles, California

The players:

o The Mar Vista Neighborhood Council, a public body of volunteer neighborhood do-gooders, certified by the city as an advisory agency for the city.

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What info did you find here today?:

 

o The Westmar Sun, “a Web journal of news and opinion about Mar Vista and the Westdales”, which also sends its content out as an email newsletter. [Ed. note: now defunct]

The story, as reported by the American Reporter (also now defunct):

The Mar Vista Neighborhood Council volunteers are tasked with keeping their constituents updated as to their workings in the community. Many of the council members communicate with their constituents by email.

 

The Westmar Sun demanded that the Council turn over all of their constituents’ email addresses to the Westmar Sun. Westmar claimed that as the Council was a public agency, they were obligated under California law to allow any citizen to view their public records, including the list of citizen email addresses.

The Council, for understandable reasons, were not inclined to want to do this. In fact, rather than breach the privacy of their constituents by sharing their email addresses, and on the advice of their attorney, they destroyed the email addresses. And from now on, they will advise people that if they provide an email address, it may become a matter of public record.

Now there’s an interesting way for spammers to build their email base. Kind of makes you wonder about the safety of a Do Not Email list maintained by the government, doesn’t it?

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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Other Amount:
What info did you find here today?:

2 thoughts on “Is Your Email Address Safe in the Hands of a Government Agency? Publisher Demands Mailing List from City Council

  1. While the statement of intent rule would be nice, it would have free speech advocates in an uproar. ‘Why should you have to explain to a government agency why you want public information?’ – such a rule would allow for easier censorship, which technically this could be considered a case of. Still, it’s too bad the Westmar Sun had to abuse the law to bring to light this problem.

  2. There’ s obviously a gap in the law: there should be a requirement for ‘statement of intent’ for anybody demending data of this nature.

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