Articles

Texas Wrestles with Privacy, Public Records

Legislature has ignored citizen privacy, says member

by / March 20, 2007
Last month, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott rendered an opinion that government bodies are prohibited from disclosing Social Security Numbers in government records, and that disclosing such information is a criminal offense under the Public Information Act.

As a result, Texas county clerks stopped providing public access to government information until they could determine how to redact such information.

Then, according to today's Austin American-Statesman the Texas Legislature passed bills exempting clerks from liability for releasing private information. Now Texas Rep. Carl Isett says the Legislature has ignored citizen privacy and Isett has authored a bill -- HB 59 -- to protect privacy.

The bill states that a non-governmental business may not require a biometric identifier, and puts in new requirements and stipulations on the display or dissemination of Social Security numbers.