The Law


 

Prior to 2002, California Government Code 6254.21, prohibited state and local agencies from posting home addresses and telephone numbers of elected and appointed officials on the internet without their permission.  In 2002, California Assembly Member Richard Dickerson introduced Assembly Bill 2238.  AB 2238 amended the law by prohibiting any person from knowingly posting home addresses and telephone numbers of any elected or appointed official, or the official's residing spouse or child, on the Internet knowing that person is an elected or appointed official and intending to cause imminent great bodily harm that is likely to occur, or threatening to cause imminent great bodily harm to that individual.  The bill extended this protection to public safety officials as well, and also made a violation of this law a misdemeanor.  Additionally, the bill created a task force to determine how to protect a public safety official's home information.  AB 2238 was a great start in protecting law enforcement officers personal information, but the downside was it only protected law enforcement officials if someone posted their home address or telephone number on the internet  knowing that person is an elected or appointed official and with intent to harm them or their family.

In 2005, California Assembly Member Noreen Evans introduced Assembly Bill 1595 which changed GC 6254.21 to prohibit a person, business, or association from publicly posting or publicly displaying on the Internet the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official if that official has made a written demand of that person, business, or association to not disclose his or her home address or telephone number.  This amendment was a huge success for public safety officials in that it finally allowed them to opt-out of internet data bases to prevent their home addresses and phone numbers being readily available on the internet.

In 2009, California Assembly Member Ted Lieu introduced Assembly Bill 32.  The bill again amended GC 6254.21.  It now required data vendors to immediately remove elected, appointed, and public safety officials within forty-eight hours of receiving a written demand.  It also requires that the information removed stays removed for four years. 

As you can see GC 6254.21 has become a great tool for public safety, elected and appointed officials in keeping themselves and their family's safe!  See below for the current law:

Government Code 6254.21  (a) 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 that individual.
   (b) No person shall knowingly post the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official, or of the official's
residing spouse or child, on the Internet knowing that person is an elected or appointed official and intending to cause imminent great
bodily harm that is likely to occur or threatening to cause imminent great bodily harm to that individual.
A violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor. A violation of this subdivision that leads to the bodily injury of the official, or his or her residing spouse or child, is a misdemeanor or a felony.
(c) (1) (A) No person, business, or association shall publicly post or publicly display on the Internet the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official if that official has made a written demand of that person, business, or association to not disclose his or her home address or telephone number.
   (B) A written demand made under this paragraph by a state constitutional officer, a mayor, or a Member of the Legislature, a city council, or a board of supervisors shall include a statement describing a threat or fear for the safety of that official or of any person residing at the official's home address.
   (C) A written demand made under this paragraph by an elected official shall be effective for four years, regardless of whether or not the official's term has expired prior to the end of the four-year period.
   (D) (i) A person, business, or association that receives the written demand of an elected or appointed official pursuant to this paragraph shall remove the official's home address or telephone number from public display on the Internet, including information provided to cellular telephone applications, within 48 hours of delivery of the written demand, and shall continue to ensure that this information is not reposted on the same Internet Web site, subsidiary site, or any other Internet Web site maintained by the recipient of the written demand.
   (ii) After receiving the elected or appointed official's written demand, the person, business, or association shall not transfer the appointed or elected official's home address or telephone number to any other person, business, or association through any other medium.
   (iii) Clause (ii) shall not be deemed to prohibit a telephone corporation, as defined in Section 234 of the Public Utilities Code, or its affiliate, from transferring the elected or appointed official's home address or telephone number to any person, business, or association, if the transfer is authorized by federal or state law, regulation, order, or tariff, or necessary in the event of an emergency, or to collect a debt owed by the elected or appointed official to the telephone corporation or its affiliate.
   (E) For purposes of this paragraph, "publicly post" or "publicly display" means to intentionally communicate or otherwise make available to the general public.
   (2) An official whose home address or telephone number is made public as a result of a violation of paragraph (1) may bring an
action seeking injunctive or declarative relief in any court of competent jurisdiction.
If a court finds that a violation has occurred, it may grant injunctive or declarative relief and shall award the official court costs and reasonable attorney's fees. A fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) may be imposed for a violation of the court's order for an injunction or declarative relief obtained pursuant to this paragraph.
   (3) An elected or appointed official may designate in writing the official's employer, a related governmental entity, or any voluntary
professional association of similar officials to act, on behalf of that official, as that official's agent with regard to making a written demand pursuant to this section. A written demand made by an agent pursuant to this paragraph shall include a statement describing a threat or fear for the safety of that official or of any person residing at the official's home address.
   (d) (1) No person, business, or association shall solicit, sell, or trade on the Internet the home address or telephone number of an
elected or appointed official with the intent to cause imminent great bodily harm to the official or to any person residing at the official's home address.
   (2) Notwithstanding any other law, an official whose home address or telephone number is solicited, sold, or traded in violation of
paragraph (1) may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction. If a jury or court finds that a violation has occurred, it shall award damages to that official in an amount up to a maximum of three times the actual damages but in no case less than four thousand dollars ($4,000).
   (e) An interactive computer service or access software provider, as defined in Section 230(f) of Title 47 of the United States Code,
shall not be liable under this section unless the service or provider intends to abet or cause imminent great bodily harm that is likely
to occur or threatens to cause imminent great bodily harm to an elected or appointed official. 
   (f) For purposes of this section, "elected or appointed official" includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
   (1) State constitutional officers.
   (2) Members of the Legislature.
   (3) Judges and court commissioners.
   (4) District attorneys.
   (5) Public defenders.
   (6) Members of a city council.
   (7) Members of a board of supervisors.
   (8) Appointees of the Governor.
   (9) Appointees of the Legislature.
   (10) Mayors.
   (11) City attorneys.
   (12) Police chiefs and sheriffs.
   (13) A public safety official, as defined in Section 6254.24.
   (14) State administrative law judges.
   (15) Federal judges and federal defenders.
   (16) Members of the United States Congress and appointees of the
President.
   (g) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude punishment
instead under Sections 69, 76, or 422 of the Penal Code, or any other
provision of law.

California Government Code 6254.24 defines a public safety official as:
As used in this chapter, "public safety official" means the following parties, whether active or retired:
   (a) A peace officer as defined in Sections 830 to 830.65, inclusive, of the Penal Code, or a person who is not a peace officer,
but may exercise the powers of arrest during the course and within the scope of their employment pursuant to Section 830.7 of the Penal
Code.
   (b) A public officer or other person listed in Sections 1808.2 and 1808.6 of the Vehicle Code.
   (c) An "elected or appointed official" as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 6254.21.
   (d) An attorney employed by the Department of Justice, the State Public Defender, or a county office of the district attorney or public defender, the United States Attorney, or the Federal Public Defender.
   (e) A city attorney and an attorney who represent cities in criminal matters.
   (f) An employee of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation who supervises inmates or is required to have a prisoner in his or her care or custody.
   (g) A sworn or nonsworn employee who supervises inmates in a city police department, a county sheriff's office, the Department of the
California Highway Patrol, federal, state, or a local detention facility, and a local juvenile hall, camp, ranch, or home, and a probation officer as defined in Section 830.5 of the Penal Code.
   (h) A federal prosecutor, a federal criminal investigator, and a National Park Service Ranger working in California.
   (i) The surviving spouse or child of a peace officer defined in Section 830 of the Penal Code, if the peace officer died in the line
of duty.
   (j) State and federal judges and court commissioners.
   (k) An employee of the Attorney General, a district attorney, or a public defender who submits verification from the Attorney General,
district attorney, or public defender that the employee represents the Attorney General, district attorney, or public defender in matters that routinely place that employee in personal contact with persons under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of, committing criminal acts.
   (l) A nonsworn employee of the Department of Justice or a police department or sheriff's office that, in the course of his or her employment, is responsible for collecting, documenting, and preserving physical evidence at crime scenes, testifying in court as an expert witness, and other technical duties, and a nonsworn employee that, in the course of his or her employment, performs a variety of standardized and advanced laboratory procedures in the examination of physical crime evidence, determines their results, and provides expert testimony in court.

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