Bill filed to shield email addresses of Florida taxpayers

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Concerned with identify theft and similar crimes, Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala filed a proposal this week that would prevent release of taxpayers’ email addresses retained by tax collectors.

Latvala filed the bill (SB 200) for consideration during the 2015 Legislative Session beginning March 3. The measure seeks a public-records exemption for email addresses used in communications between tax collectors and taxpayers.

“In order to conduct business electronically with a tax collector, the taxpayer must report his or her personal email address,” the bill says. Currently, email addresses are public record, available to anyone.

“However,” the bill continues, “such addresses are unique to the individual and, when combined with other personal identifying information, can be used for identity theft, taxpayer scams, and other invasive contacts.

“Public availability of personal email addresses invites and exacerbates thriving and well-documented criminal activities and puts taxpayers at increased risk of harm.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.