Monday, November 13, 2006

Don't Trust Your Local Government Websites

Email Privacy Revisited

In what could prove to be a major legal issue for the Mayor of Pleasanton in which she used her City Email accounts to request donations for her re-election campaign, new information is coming out in regards to emails sent to and from city officials. See article: City Officials Take Email Warning

The San Ramon City website has a disclaimer in regards to privacy and other issues concerning their website. This is not a privacy statement but a statement concerning any communications with the city to begin with. Under California law, all records of city officials are "public records," and as such could be released under the California Public Records Act, which like the federal Freedom of Information Act, allows anyone to make requests for public records. All communications on government run systems, including written and email communications are open to public inspection.

Here is the actual quote from the City of San Ramon Website.

City of San Ramon Web Site Disclaimer

The City of San Ramon provides information on this web site as a public service. Though the City tries to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, the City does not promise, claim, warrant, or guarantee that information provided on this web site is complete, accurate, valid, timely, or adequate. This web site is not secure and communications provided to the City through this web site, via e-mail or online forms, shall not be considered legal notice to the City, its officers, agents, employees, or representatives for any purpose. The user assumes all risk of harm or loss from the use of this web site.

Information, comments, questions, requests, and other communications provided to the City through this web site are public records subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act or the federal Freedom of Information Act. No person is required to provide any information through this web site. For alternative ways of contacting City officials or staff, please click on the "Contact Us" link at the top of this page.

Privacy is a chief concern with most people today. Be careful with your email account with the city officials, because it becomes a matter of public record whenever you send something to the city.

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