Man gets thousands of residents' e-mail addresses

February 26, 2010 7:59:01 PM PST
There is outrage in the Town of Cary over a public records request for thousands of e-mail addresses in the town's database. Town officials handed over the addresses as required by state law, but that's stirred an outpouring of surprise and concern.

Kent McGroarty is one of thousands of people who recently received a message from the town telling him a man named John Beimler has his e-mail address now.

"I was kind of concerned wondering, who wants my e-mail account," McGroarty said.

Cary spokesperson Susan Moran says Beimler now has 19,000 e-mail addresses in all from the town's database, because he asked for them.

"Local governments, not only are not allowed to ask why they want it, we can't prohibit them from having it," Moran said. "We have to give public information based on state law."

And there are no restrictions on what Beimler can do with those addresses now that he has them.

"Whether they'll sell it, whether they'll throw it away, whether they'll start sending them e-mails," Moran said. "We simply don't know."

Beimler tells ABC11 Eyewitness News that he doesn't intend to use the e-mails at all. In fact, he says he doesn't think he should have gotten them and wants the state law changed.

A strange way, perhaps, to get a point across, but Beimler says people need to know what the law is before they can object to it, which is something McGroarty agrees with.

"I think there should be a change in the law; I think it shouldn't be out there for people to use," McGroarty said. "I don't want people to have access to anything unless I give it to them."

This isn't the first time the Town of Cary has given out e-mail addresses.

Last summer, Moran says several political campaigns requested a similar list to the one given to Beimler.

She also says, since Beimler's request, three other people have asked for the very same list.

Despite the addresses, the Town won't give out private information like utility, social security numbers and bank accounts, because public records laws don't apply to those sorts of things.

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