Archive for the ‘Government’ Category
In the past few years, general circulation newspapers have furthered the cause of government transparency by providing searchable databases of government employees and their salaries. Although these are federal, state, county and municipal government public records the corresponding government agencies have not made these available at their Web sites. Government agency Web sites sometimes post a staff list or employee directory — not salaries — with name, telephone number and email. Often, school districts don’t list staff beyond those in the top level administration, but school sites that have their own Web pages may have a staff and faculty directory with names of administrators and teachers. An example of a very flexible school staff and teacher directory is hosted by the Ventura County Office of Education. Search by district, school or employee last name to find the district, school site, job title and phone number (Internet Explorer, only). I’ve endeavored to compile links to all of the government pay databases hosted at newspaper sites on a page called Government Employees.
The disadvantage of the separate databases is you have to know which one to search in order to verify your subject’s employment. The beta site, myDanwei, is a nascent attempt at a cross-agency compilation of government employee names, salaries, job titles and departments. Select the link,
National public employee salary database, to search by partial name, county, state, agency or institution. There’s only one search box, but you can enter a combination of keywords. The words (without quotation marks) “physician santa clara” will return a list of doctors who work for the County of Santa Clara, California. The extent of the coverage becomes apparent with various queries. The keywords “Weir Idaho” doesn’t return any records, but “Weir Washington” results in a handful of names from Washington State agencies. Just enter a state name into the search box to find out if any data is included from that location and from which government departments.
MyDanwei doesn’t identify its sources and this description of the utility isn’t very enlightening.
MyDanwei, Inc. is a pioneer of developing the next generation organization, people, salary, and job information searching and data mining platforms. We are inspired to provide our users with easy and accurate information about a person or an organization, such as salary, education background, past employments, key employees, job positions, etc. Besides one of the most comprehensive databases with millions of records of organization, people, salary, and jobs, our website also features state-of-the-art user interface, where everyone can freely add, edit, discuss, tag, and rate all records about people and organizations around the globe.
The search box on the myDanwei home page can be used to access minimal information on some private and public companies. Again, the source and completeness of the data is not identified. These are leads, not confirmations!
How does this site compare with the newspaper government employee databases?
All disciplinary records of Arizona government employees become public records September 28, 2008. Arizona Revised Statutes adds section 39-128, Disciplinary records of public officers and employees; disclosure; exceptions.
Release of home address, telephone number and photograph of people in certain job categories (law enforcement) is restricted.
The Arizona Ombudsman produces a monthly educational newsletter, The Public Law. A recent issue offers agencies guidance that speaks to the complaints of private investigators, reporters, and all those who request public records. Read, Public Records Law 101: Avoid the top ten most common pitfalls.
Does your state have an open records law related to government employee discipline records?
A little noticed but potentially significant (for public records researchers) California Attorney General opinion was released a week ago. The opinion upends the almost universal interpretation of the Public Records Act by county Assessors pertaining to disseminating property addresses on the Internet.
If you go to any California county Assessor online public inquiry you’ll see an explanation similar to this on the Stanislaus County site:
California Government Code 6254.21 states that “No state or local agency shall post the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official on the Internet without first obtaining the written permission of the individual.”
Therefore the agencies don’t reveal anyone’s address.The law seems to be hewed to regarding the real property addresses for public officials, right? Not according to the AG. Deputy Attorney General Daniel Stone says the common interpretation is wrong and isn’t what the legislature intended.
As a practical matter, we believe that a broad and overly literal reading of section 6254.21(a) would lead to unworkable results. Some public agencies…might conclude that they were forced to refrain from making any property-related database accessible to any internet technology, no matter how secure or limited the network, due to the possibility that the data could contain home information of public officials. Other public agencies… might conclude that they were forced to review and redact their databases… Such an identification process would be difficult, time consuming, and inevitably incomplete. Furthermore, the resulting revised property databases… would no longer be comprehensive and would therefore be of diminished utility to users. We are hesitant to conclude that the Legislature could have intended such impractical results.
Simply put, the 1998 law was “intended to prevent public agencies from posting on their public websites any list or directory of public officials’ home addresses and telephone numbers, without first obtaining each official’s written permission to be included in the listing.” In other words, government agencies can’t construct a list of names and residential addresses of government employees and put that on their Internet sites.
Giving the Assessors permission to reconsider their ban on including addresses and names in their online databases, Stone states, simply:
Indeed, we believe that if the Legislature had in fact contemplated a comprehensively literal application of section 6254.21(a), that intention would have been more clearly reflected in the statute.
Give a kindly call to your local Assessor and ask her/him what changes they anticipate making in their Internet access in light of this opinion. What did the Assessor say?
Defendants Barred From Obtaining or Selling Consumers’ Phone Records to Third Parties
The Federal Trade Commission has put a permanent halt to an operation that allegedly obtained consumers’ confidential phone records without their knowledge or consent and sold them to third parties. The defendants are barred from obtaining consumers’ telephone records without their consent and court orders impose judgments on the defendants totaling more than $600,000 – the estimated amount of their ill-gotten gains.
This is the latest in a series of FTC cases targeting telephone pretexters – individuals who use false pretenses to obtain consumers’ confidential information. Since 2006 the FTC has charged sixteen individuals and their corporations with violating federal law by pretexting to obtain phone records of third parties. All have now been barred from pretexting and all have been ordered to give up the money they made engaging in the illegal practice.
In February 2007, the FTC asked a U.S. district court to order a permanent halt to the operations of a company that sold consumers’ confidential phone records, including information on calls placed and received. The FTC also sued the individuals who had used false pretenses to obtain the records from phone companies and then supplied those records to the company for a fee. The agency alleged these practices were unfair and deceptive in violation of federal law, and could endanger consumers’ safety. The agency also asked the court to order the defendants to give up their ill-gotten gains.
According to the FTC complaint, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 provides that a customer’s phone records may only be disclosed “upon affirmative written request by the customer.” But the agency alleged that since at least 2005 Action Research Group, Inc., and its principals, Joseph and Matthew DePantes, sold confidential customer phone records, including lists of calls made and the dates, times, and duration of the calls, to third parties, without the knowledge or consent of the customers. To get the records, these defendants relied upon the other defendants, Eye in the Sky Investigations, Inc., Cassandra Selvage and Bryan Wagner, who obtained them from phone companies through “pretexting” – using “false pretenses, fraudulent statements, fraudulent or stolen documents or other misrepresentations, including posing as an account holder or as an employee” of a phone company. Selling the records constitutes an invasion of privacy that could endanger the health and safety of consumers, the agency alleged.
The DePantes and ARG agreed to settle the FTC charges. Defendants ESI, Cassandra Selvage, and Bryan Wagner are subject to default judgments entered by the court.
The settlement and default judgments permanently bar the defendants from obtaining, marketing or selling customer phone records or consumers’ personal information derived from those records. They also bar the defendants from pretexting or using others to pretext to obtain consumers’ information. The settlement order entered a judgment in the amount of $67,000 against the DePantes and ARG, the estimated amount of ill-gotten gains the defendants earned from their illegal scheme; the judgment was suspended upon a payment of $3,000 based on the defendants’ inability to pay. In the default judgments, the court ordered Wagner to give up $428,085 in ill-gotten gains and ESI and Selvage to give up $110,762.
The Commission vote to accept the settlements was 5-0. They were filed in U.S. District Court for the middle district of Florida, Orlando division.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
What are your comments in this topic?
Jimmie Mesis, Editor-in-Chief
The FTC reached an agreement on Wednesday for $600,000 in settlements and judgments against several private investigators others involved in the Hewlett-Packard Co. boardroom scandal.
The FTC settlement imposed a $67,000 penalty against Matthew DePante, his father, Joseph DePante, and their now-defunct company, Action Research Group Inc., which was based in Clearwater, Fla. All but $3,000 was suspended due to their inability to pay.
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando division, also entered default judgments against DePante’s subcontractors, Bryan Wagner, who must pay $428,085, and Cassandra Selvage and her company, Eye in the Sky Investigations Inc., who must pay $110,762.
What are your comments on this topic?
Jimmie Mesis, Editor-in-Chief
Selected Laws Governing the Disclosure of
Customer Phone Records by Telecommunications
Carriers, a recently released Congressional Research Service report, summarizes the laws, legislation and congressional actions related to telephone call log records. The Federation of American Scientists has a database of some of these CRS reports, which are selectively released by members of Congress.