Lawmaker Wants To Amend OPRA To Protect Citizens’ Personal Information

Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli

TRENTON — In an effort to protect the privacy of New Jersey citizens who register for governmental programs or to receive governmental newsletters and notifications, Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli plans to introduce legislation that would exclude citizens’ email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information from disclosure under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

“This is a matter of safeguarding the privacy rights of individuals,” said Ciattarelli (R-Somerset.) “The general public is largely unaware that when they sign up for government programs, newsletters, and notices their personal information could be obtained by third-parties due to our state’s OPRA law.

“This kind of transparency and disclosure was not the intent of OPRA,” he continued. “This measure is necessary to protect the privacy of citizens.”

Under current law, citizen email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information that are provided to municipalities and counties are subject to OPRA. Ciattarelli’s measure would exclude this information from disclosure as a public record when, for example, the information has been provided solely for receiving emergency notifications or registering a child for youth soccer.

“I am a huge proponent of transparency in government,” stated Ciattarelli. “That isn’t what this bill is about. It’s about amending an unintended consequence of OPRA that violates the privacy of citizens. That’s why I hope the bill garners bipartisan support in the Legislature.

“Parents should be able to register their children for municipal youth sports programs and activities without having all of their registration information being obtained by spam advertisers,” he explained. “Senior citizens should also be able to sign up to receive municipal e-newsletters and notifications without putting their private information in jeopardy.”

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