Expose hypocrisy: Examine agency data sales

If you’ve been denied records or data from a government agency on flimsy grounds, request to find out if the agency sells the same data to commercial users for profit.

That’s what The Oklahoman and Tulsa World did (see story). They requested a database of state employees, including date of birth and salaries, to identify criminal state employees. The state denied the request, saying the information invades employee privacy and could lead to identity theft. So the papers found out that the state sells the same information (including driver’s license information) to insurance companies, the military, lawyers and creditors, raking in more than $65 million over the past five years.

In other words, the state has no problem selling out their employees’ privacy or exposing them to identity theft when they can make money off it. But they oppose making information available to journalists who would uncover nepotism, employees who are convicted felons, and other problems. The state’s argument is hypocritical. They can keep trying to justify secrecy, but as those Oklahoma papers showed, that dog don’t hunt.

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