California Governor Won't Sell Wage Information

Despite a law passed last fall that would let California's Employment Development Department (EDD) collect a premium by providing payroll information to private finance companies, Gov. Gray Davis (D) late last week blocked the agency from selling any data.

"I believe a state agency entrusted with confidential personal information on millions of its citizens -- information that was gathered for the purpose of carrying out a government service -- has a responsibility to protect the privacy of those citizens," Davis said in a statement.

California Assembly Bill AB 604, a version of which is available at www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset2text.htm, allows EDD to electronically provide private companies with wage and employment data "in connection with credit transactions."

The legislation also clears the way for EDD to charge for use of its data when that information is used to help government agencies determine levels of public assistance or in cases when those agencies want to use EDD data to pursue individuals allegedly abusing public benefits programs.

Davis also has signaled that he will push assembly leaders to "reconsider" their approval of the bill.

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