When The Shoes On The Other Foot
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J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California April 25, 2001
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When The Shoes On The Other Foot
City lawsuit to defend cop privacy: Administrator defends disputed Internet site
by Venice Buhain
KIRKLAND -- Citing an invasion of employees' privacy and damage to its ability to hire and retain qualified employees, city officials are suing the author of a Web site that exposes personal information about law enforcement employees.
The city is asking King County Superior Court to shut down a Web site written by Bill Sheehan of Bothell, who compiled a list of information on Kirkland police officers and other law enforcement employees, including their Social Security numbers and home addresses.
``Their (the employees') salary, name and rank is all a matter of the public record,'' City Manager David Ramsay said yesterday. ``However, we believe information on private addresses, Social Security numbers and phone numbers -- particularly unlisted phone numbers -- is not.''
Besides invading the privacy of employees, Ramsay said the existence of a site revealing personal information also may scare away potential future law enforcement hires.
``We run the risk of not being able to attract quality employees or having our quality employees leave,'' Ramsay said. ....
In addition to Kirkland police officers, the site also names officers in 14 other Washington cities, including Redmond, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, Snoqualmie, Bothell, Medina and Mercer Island. Criminal records of Kirkland officers as well as personal information on officers in the other cities will be posted, Sheehan said. ....
Johnson told KIRO that he put the site up to increase the accountability of law enforcement officials.
``I think it was probably years of watching stories of the bad cops and bad government officials do things and remain beyond the reach of ordinary people,'' he said.
``If we had a more open police department, we wouldn't have officers switching name tags at WTO,'' he said, referring to the 1999 clashes in Seattle.
Johnson told Webb he expects that his personal information also will become available on the Internet.
``That information, sadly, is available to people who want to look hard enough.''
Venice Buhain can be reached at venice.buhain@... or 425-453-4235.Eastside Journal
1705 132nd Avenue N.E.
Bellevue, WA 98005-2251
All materials Copyright © 2001 Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.
It is interesting to hear the government's arguments when the privacy shoe is on the other foot. People's phone lines are secretly and randomly tapped in the supposed interest of the "good of society," their bank accounts are monitored, and all private information turned over to whatever government agency wants the information, and even the Department of Motor Vehicles is commercially marketing our private information they require us to give them for their profit. And, yes, even your "criminal records" are being let out to private investigators who have favors to collect from their cop friends. That's a known.Government people are always going under pseudonym names, carrying false I.D., misrepresenting who they are, and what their profession really is.With us people, there is no privacy information that can be withheld from them. As I have before said, the police even retained me in a cell and refused to allow me to use a toilet unless and until I "revealed" unto them "my Social Security Information." Since this information is so all important, shouldn't we be entitled to their same information, and not let them us a toilet until they surrender their Social Security information to us. Government is the one who invented the universal numbering scheme after all, so let them eat the fruits of their own ways.Perhaps the best way for the people to protect their privacy information is to pass a law requiring government employees to be the first to show us by example, how we should not be afraid to give out our private information. Government employees (excuse me, your public servants) come around knocking on our doors demanding information and trying to find out anything they can, so why shouldn't those intruders (your public servants who work for you) be subject to the same intrusion of their private residences as they do us? What's wrong with the natural law of "Intrude and ye shall be intruded upon?" and "Reaping what you sow?" Wouldn't it be nice to go and shake hands with that IRS Agent that lives three houses down from you? I think we'd have a better society and a more responsible government if we leveled the playing field. That's my take.I'm Ronald Branson
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