Is Big Brother Watching You? In California, All You Have To Do Is Ask.

On November 7, 1972, the voters of California added the words “and privacy” to Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution to guarantee an inalienable right of privacy. Five years later, the California legislature enacted the Information Practices Act, Stats. 1977, c. 709, after finding that the “right to privacy is being threatened by the indiscriminate collection, maintenance, and dissemination of personal information. Civil Code Section § 1798.1(a).

The Information Practices Act grants every individual the right to inquire and be notified as to whether a state agency maintains a record about himself or herself. Civil Code § 1798.32. Individuals also have a right to inspect and receive exact copies of their records. Civil Code § 1798.34. A “record” for purposes of the act is defined as any file or grouping of information about an individual that is maintained by an agency by reference to an identifying particular such as the individual’s name, photograph, finger or voice print, or a number or symbol assigned to the individual. Civil Code § 1798. (g). For purposes of the act, an agency does not include: (1) the legislature; (2) an agency established under Article VI of the Constitution (Judicial); (3) the State Compensation Insurance Fund (except as to any records that contain personal information about the employees of the SCIF); and (4) a local agency, as defined in Government Code § 6252.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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