WASHINGTON — Montgomery County may have found the line between government transparency and your privacy.
It started last week, when a Bethesda-based activist group called MocoVoters asked for all the email addresses used by residents to describe to various newsletters issued by county agencies.
The Washington Post says the county determined that by law it had to say yes.
And since all public records requests are posted on the county’s website DataMontgomery, that meant those email addresses would be there for anyone and everyone to see.
For at least a few days, anyway. The list has since been taken down.
Robert Lipman, who heads the MocoVoters group, says he’s decided against using any of the email addresses offered up by the county.
But once the downsides of the public transparency law were uncovered, it started leading to similar requests that seem a bit more dubious.
Bethesda Magazine notes that someone claiming to be Lipman also asked for all of the phone numbers subscribed to the county’s emergency alert system. It was rejected right away, and Lipman says he had nothing to do with that request.
The other request came from a supposed “Nigerian prince” who wanted to invest millions of dollars in the county, but just needed someone to help him for “political and security reasons,” which of course is a spoof of a well-known email scam that’s been around for years.
In the meantime, the county council is already working to amend the law to make sure that email disclosures would be exempt from public information requests in the future.
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