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Georgia Government Email Databases – Free for All?

Posted by on March 4, 2012
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At the Cobb BOC meeting on February 28, 2012, several citizens spoke during public comment regarding concerns about an email sent to citizens asking to pass their email addressees along to the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network or MAVEN in its efforts to pass TIA aka TSPLOST.  (Read my post here for background information about this email.)

The County Attorney, Dottie Bishop, stated that the information was provided to MAVEN through an Open Records Request. Cobb Chairman Tim Lee added that the Georgia Attorney General, Sam Olens, agreed with the County’s actions.  It hadn’t occurred to me that anyone can simply ask for government email databases and receive them.  I had assumed that these emails would be considered private information and would be redacted from any type of Open Records Request.  From the numerous emails and phone calls I received after this meeting I was not alone in this assumption.

It appears that only Public Safety and Alarm Systems are exempt from Open Records requests per O.C.G.A. Sec. 50-18-72(a)(11.2).

So any time Georgia citizens give their email addresses to the local government, we should beware because it is anyone’s guess as to where it could end up.  The Citizens of Georgia don’t have privacy we think we do.  It may be time for Georgia to consider Government email databases private information and therefore redacted.

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