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DeAngelo Bill to Strengthen OPRA Law To Protect Privacy, Safety Of Residents

Legislation Aimed at Stopping Use of Personal Information Obtained by Companies for Marketing

(TRENTON) - To protect the personal information of residents from misuse of unsolicited marketing campaigns, Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo (D-Mercer) today will introduce legislation that would exempt certain information from the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

Under the bill, personal information such as name, address, phone number and e-mail on personal government records would not be subject to OPRA requests. Those records would be relative to pet or home alarm system permits, licenses, or registrations.

"These types of pet or security systems permits are often required by municipalities for the safety of the community. We cannot allow for these requirements to be twisted and bent to be used to potentially jeopardize the safety of those who people who abide by them," said DeAngelo.

The assemblyman is introducing the legislation in response to concerns raised by constituents who became aware of an invisible fence company seeking to obtain their public information filed in local pet licenses. The company filed OPRA requests with various local governments in order to market their services to these pet owners.

"The thought that businesses would seek to use public, personal information to make a buck is not in the spirit of the open public records laws," DeAngelo said. "While there are legitimate and necessary purposes for OPRA, this is not one.

"Residents should not have to worry that obtaining required permits put them in the line of sight for unscrupulous couples who see them as prey," said DeAngelo.

Local governments have sought to protect their residents' personal information by refusing to comply with the OPRA request. This action has resulted in lawsuits filed by the petitioning company to obtain the list as well as legal fees associated with the case.

As a result, the bill protects local governments from being required to pay a petitioner's attorney fees and prevents unnecessary spending of taxpayer dollars.

If signed into law, the measure would take effect immediately.

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