OPEA asks judge to stop state from providing newspaper with information on state employees

A state employees group today asked an Oklahoma County judge to stop the state government from providing The Oklahoman with the birth dates and other basic personnel information on state workers.

On its Web site, OPEA said, "A person’s date of birth is the missing piece in the identity puzzle if someone is trying to commit fraud or harm an individual."

However, national experts on data privacy have repeatedly said a birth date alone is not sufficient information to steal a person's identity and that public records are not a source of data for identity thieves.

In February,
The Oklahoman requested basic employee information, including dates of birth, payroll records and employee identification numbers, for all state employees.

A number of local government agencies have long provided the birth dates of their employees to media outlets with no reported instances of identity thefts caused by the disclosure. Birth dates are also available in voter registration files and in many other public records.

State law already exempts state workers' home addresses, home telephone numbers and Social Security numbers. Last legislative session, however, state Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, opened up the home addresses for OPEA's use, The Oklahoman reported Sunday. (Read related blog.)

Read coverage of OPEA's filing: State worker group seeks to block release of records, by Paul Monies, The Oklahoman, 3.30.10.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.