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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Texas Supreme Court to decide if birth dates are public records

The Texas Supreme Court is waiting to see if state lawmakers will pass a bill that would exempt state employees' birth dates from the state's public records laws, the AP reported. If lawmakers don't, the court has decided it will hear the case. Journalists argue that without birth dates, it's nearly impossible to distinguish between employees with the same name. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs' office is concerned that the release of such information will lead to identify theft.
The Texas Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider whether state employees' birth dates are public information or must be shielded under a right to privacy.

Media and freedom of information advocates say birth dates are necessary to distinguish employees who may have the same name. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs' office has said they should be private under common law and the state Constitution.

The court did not set a date when it would hear arguments, suggesting it would wait to see if state lawmakers will write an exception for date-of-birth information into state public records laws. Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has already filed such a bill.

More here.

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