Is there a central source or one state agency that keeps all the information about me?
No. There is no databank or agency that collects or maintains all government information about an individual. If you believe that a state agency maintains records about you, you can request them from the records access officer or privacy compliance officer at the agency. See PPPL §95.
When I find the agency that has records on me, can I just ask for all the records?
It depends. Like the Freedom of Information Law, the Personal Privacy Protection Law requires that an applicant reasonably describe the records sought. Therefore, a request should include sufficient detail (i.e., name, address, date of birth, identification number, descriptions of events or occurrences, etc.) to enable agency staff to locate and identify the records. See PPPL §95.
Can I obtain all records that the state has about me?
Not necessarily. While a person (or "data subject") requesting records about himself or herself generally has rights of access to those records, there are some exceptions. For instance, the Personal Privacy Protection Law does not give an individual rights of access to law enforcement records when disclosure would interfere with an investigation. Also, rights of access conferred by that law do not extend to records about inmates or parolees. See PPPL §94.
What if I obtain a record about myself and it contains inaccurate information?
You have the right to ask for an amendment or correction of the record. If the agency disagrees with your contention, you can write a "statement of disagreement" that must accompany the record if it is disclosed. See PPPL §94.
Can a government agency get whatever records it wants about me from another state agency?
Probably not. The Personal Privacy Protection Law prohibits the disclosure of personal information without the consent of the data subject, unless an exception listed in the Law authorizes disclosure. See PPPL §96.
Can state agencies collect whatever they want about me before I can receive a government service?
No. State agencies can collect personal information only to the extent that the information is needed for some legal purpose. See PPPL §94.
Can an agency release my social security number to the public?
State and local agencies generally are prohibited from intentionally releasing social security numbers to the public. See PPPL §96-a.
How can I learn more specific information about the Personal Privacy Protection Law?
Through “You Should Know” the FOIL Advisory Opinion Index. Committee staff prepares written advisory opinions in response to particular sets of facts and circumstances. Many are available online, through two separate indexes (FOIL and Open Meetings Law), organized by key phrase. The higher the number, the more recent is the opinion.
For example, if you would like to know more about access to records via the Personal Privacy Protection Law, you would review opinions under “P” for “Personal Privacy Protection Law - General” in the FOIL Advisory Opinion Index. If you are unable to find an opinion through the key phrase index, use the Google search box above the alphabet grid to locate opinions with particular words or phrases.
These opinions represent the view of the Committee on Open Government at the time that they were rendered. They may no longer represent those views if, for example, there have been subsequent court decisions or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinions.
Advisory opinions that are not available online, primarily those prepared prior to 1993, are maintained by the Committee on Open Government and a various law libraries throughout the state. Copies of these opinions are available by contacting the Committee.