Citizen e-mail address maintained by government

Citizen e-mail addresses maintained by government entities
These bills dealt with the reclassification of certain citizen e-mail addresses maintained by government entities. Such addresses are collected by municipalities for the compilation of snow plowing alert lists, school closing notification lists, and other related lists.

Data Classification Prior to Session
Prior to Session, citizen e-mail addresses held by government entities were presumptively public, and could be requested by anyone.

MNCOGI Position
MNCOGI takes the overall position that data that is currently public should remain so. MNCOGI’s position going into the Session was that citizen e-mail addresses should remain presumptively public.

HF 20 was introduced in the House, and SF 60 was introduced in the Senate. Each had related language, but modifications were made to SF60 as it passed through committee. The major difference between the original bills was that SF 60 explicitly allowed government entities to share citizen telephone and e-mail address data without restriction.

Procedural history
These bills emerged from municipal reaction to a series of data practices requests sent to various cities by an individual who was managing his wife’s political campaign. The individual was attempting to compile a master list of constituent e-mail addresses for campaign promotional purposes, and he sought contact information from multiple notification lists.

In response, bills were introduced in the House and Senate. Each had the backing of the League of Minnesota Cities. In general, the bills sought to re-classify “personal e-mails and telephone” numbers of individuals that were “collected, maintained, or received” by government entities as private data.

HF 20 was heard by the House Civil Law Committee. MNCOGI testified in opposition. The Civil Law Committee passed the bill, and referred it to the House floor for action.

As SF 60 moved through the Senate hearing process, it was amended to state that telephone, e-mail, and IP user information of individuals that was collected, maintained, or received for “notification or informational purposes” would be classified as private data. In MNCOGI’s view, this substantially broadened the scope of the data that was being reclassified. While MNCOGI did not oppose the re-classification of IP user information, it opposed the proposal to convert even more telephone and e-mail address information.

The amended bill was heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee, with both sides testifying. The bill was defeated on a tie vote. At the end of the hearing, the committee moved for reconsideration, and voted again. This time, the bill passed by one vote, and was referred to the Senate floor for action.

HF 20 and SF 60 were both passed by their respective bodies, and ended up in the Omnibus Data Practices bill (SF 745). During conference committee review of the “personal contact information” section, MNCOGI sought to exclude the “informational purposes” language from the final bill, in order to minimize the amount of data that would be reclassified. IPAD approached MNCOGI and the original bill sponsors about removing the “informational purposes” language, and suggested substituting more precise language that narrowed the scope of the reclassification. All parties agreed, and the language of the Omnibus Bill was amended accordingly.

Citizens e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and IP user data collected, maintained, or received “for notification purposes or as part of a subscription list for an entity’s electronic periodicals” are now private data on individuals.

• HF 20
• SF 60
• SCS0060A-1 (amendment to SF 60)
• SCS0060A-3 (amendment to SF 60)
• SCS0060A-1
MNCOGI testimony about SF 60 (January 29, 2013)
MNCOGI testimony about SF 60 (March 18, 2013)
Senate Research analysis of SF 60