Amid effort to modernize public records laws, Colo. attorney general pushes for more privacy

The Denver Post: In behind-the-scenes negotiations on a bill designed to make government more transparent in the digital age, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office offered a series of amendments that could dramatically expand the types of records that can be hidden from public view.

The draft proposal, obtained by The Denver Post, would add a new exemption to Colorado’s Open Records Act to allow the government to withhold “any personal identifying information” for people who are not public employees — including something as simple as a name, phone number or address.

Open-records advocates and some state officials say that could allow the government to withhold or redact countless records currently considered public, including property or business records, or the names of people who communicate or do business with public officials. Even something as simple as a publicly available building permit often includes the name and phone number of a private citizen.

“I think it raises questions about whether those databases, those public records would still be available,” said Jeff Roberts, the executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, which has been pushing the legislation. “I don’t want to limit the availability of public records. That’s not the point of what we are trying to accomplish.”

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