Oklahoma sells employee data withheld from records requests

Christine Beckett | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | April 6, 2010

Oklahoma has made more than $65 million in the last five years selling its citizens' private information -- including birth dates of state employees that it has refused to release in response to public records requests, The Oklahoman and Tulsa World reported.

Oklahoma has been making about $10 from the information in each motor vehicle or public school record that it sells. Just last week, the Oklahoma Public Employee Association sued to block the release of public employees' birth dates in response to an open records request filed by The Oklahoman and Tulsa World newspapers.

The state Legislature has also proposed a law that would exempt birth dates from public records requests, saying it puts employees at risk of identity theft. Opponents to the legislation point to the ease at which the information can be found elsewhere, an argument only bolstered by the discovery that the state sells the information to anyone willing to pay the fee -- including insurance companies, the military, lawyers and creditors.