By Doug Larson

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Recently I received an unsolicited email from a real estate company in Northeast Oregon listing several large rural properties for sale for more money than I will ever see. I had never heard of this particular company before and while the properties were interesting to review I wondered how it was that I had become part of their email solicitation effort.

I called the company to inquire how they had obtained my email address. I was told that a company representative had a conversation with a hunting outfitter who informed them that lists of email addresses could be obtained from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The company representative told me they had obtained email addresses of approximately 120,000 Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife licensees for a nominal fee.

I called the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife asking how they are able to sell my information without my permission. I was told that the sale of the information is allowed under Oregon’s public records law and that the department is obligated to fulfill those requests. I voluntarily provided my personal information to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife so I can legally hunt and fish. I did not provide the information so it could be sold to any person or entity making a request for it under the public records law or any other means.

Having read some but not all of Oregon Revised Statute 192, I understand more of Oregon’s public law, and I feel that this statute is being exploited for financial opportunity. Obtaining contact information for a great many individuals for an insignificant fee certainly is a wonderful tool for those that are in the marketing business, and I fail to see how this provision in the public records law benefits “the business of the public.”

I have seriously considered not renewing my Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife licensing and tag purchases due to this exposure under the public records law. This is not my preference and it would create quite a shift of lifestyle for me as I have enjoyed the outdoors, hunting and fishing for most of my childhood and all of my adult years. The simple truth here is that I cannot afford to have my information cast about the digital world to whoever asks for it.

In today’s world of continuous criminal hacking of digital databases around the globe, it is inconceivable to me that the state of Oregon sells personal contact information to anyone that requests it under the public records law. There needs to be a constructive change in the public records law so Oregon agencies are not turned into sales agents of personal information that is requested for marketing purposes. This exploitation is not in the interest of “the business of the public.”

I know that most of my personal information is already “out there,” in the hands of, who knows? (Thanks Equifax!) So why the fuss? Because my personal information in the hands of others, in this case the state of Oregon, has not been sufficiently guarded.

Our Legislature needs to tighten up the definition of “the business of the public” and close down this exploitation.

— Doug Larson lives in Redmond.