Protect personal information of state, local employees

  • Monday, February 22, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

On a yearly basis, the Seattle Times requests too much personal information about state and local employees.

Why do they need the date of birth of public servants? How will the data be used or abused? What safeguards will they deploy to keep that sensitive information secure? Data such as job titles, tenure and salaries are fair game in the public workforce.

We all believe in open transparency of government and the intent of RCWs explaining public records. There are limits restricting information found in personnel files dependent on interpretation. The only recourse to protect one’s data is through a court injunction, which is tenuous. Once the private data is released, the risk for massive identity theft is real. It is bizarre how lawmakers and judges allow for these over-reaching requests of personal information.

All told, I was a subscriber to the Seattle Times. Never again for reasons explained here. Applause to The Herald newspaper for producing quality journalism without having to extract excessive personal information from public servants.

William Rugg


Editor’s note: The Herald Editorial Board has previously argued that the birthdates of state employees should be made available through public records requests. When dealing with common names, that information is necessary to correctly identify subjects of investigations by newspapers to avoid confusion with individuals who share the same or similar names. The Legislature passed a law last year that allows release of birthdates but exempted release of employees’ payroll deduction information.

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