Victims of crime are increasingly susceptible to being re-victimized as a result of retaliatory violence, intimidation or harassment. Developments in technology and the internet have made it relatively easy for an assailant to acquire all of their victim’s private information, including home address, telephone number, drivers license, date of birth and place of employment.
Victims of crime are increasingly susceptible to being re-victimized as a result of retaliatory violence, intimidation or harassment. Developments in technology and the internet have made it relatively easy for an assailant to acquire all of their victim’s private information, including home address, telephone number, driver’s license, date of birth and place of employment.
Victims of crime should not be allowed to continue to suffer at the hands of the very perpetrators who victimized them in the first place.
The California Public Records Act requires public records to be open to inspection by the public except as specifically exempted from disclosure. The act requires, subject to certain exceptions, state and local law enforcement agencies to provide the current address of every individual arrested by the agency and the current address of the victim of a crime, where the requester declares under penalty of perjury that the request is made for scholarly, journalistic, political, or governmental purpose, or that the request is made for investigation by a private investigator as specified.
Summary of AB 1682
The bill is due to be amended from its current form to 1) undo proposed changes to the Public Records Act in the original version of the bill, and 2) add provisions to the law that will allow cities and counties to adopt policies to permit victims to restrict their personal information if they chose to do so. The bill would not impair information disclosures under the Evidence Code or access to the information by criminal defense counsel.
In 1995, law enforcement and the newspaper associations worked together to craft a law that would address a then growing problem of so called “boilerplate” requests to law enforcement agencies under the Public Records Act. These “boilerplate”
requests were use to obtain the name and addresses of victims and arrestees for the purpose of solicitation of all sorts of services, making law enforcement agencies a one stop shop for telemarketers, defense attorneys seeking clients and others to obtain confidential personal identifying information about crime victims and arrestees. A compromise was crafted that limited access to crime victims and arrestee personal information to those who needed it for “scholarly, journalistic, political, or governmental purpose”.
In 1995 defining a “journalistic” purpose was fairly easy to define. A journalist was someone who worked for a known “traditional” media outlet such as a newspaper, radio or television network.
Today, with the growth of technology, journalists are not so easily identifiable. Anyone who creates his or her own website could be considered a “journalist” and under California’s current law, a law enforcement agency must provide the name, date of birth, phone number, home and work address of almost every crime victim whenever someone claims to be a journalist and comes into a law enforcement agency and requests it.
The website www.whoisarat.com posts the personal information of law enforcement agents, informants and even victims.
Currently victims’ confidential information is a click away. Victims should not lose their rights to privacy just because they became victims. On the contrary, they should be given the right to protect their information if they think doing so will protect them and their families.
Crime Victims United of California
CA Peace Officers’ Association
CA Police Chiefs’ Association