Individuals should have more control over how their personal information is used. For a long time, voter registration information in Utah has been sold by the state to persons for $1,050. Not surprisingly, this information is used by political parties to push their agendas. Recently, the information was posted online by a website, now accessible for free by anyone.
That's a bit different from a few organizations having the information. It seems time to allow some voter information to remain private if the individual wants it to remain so.
There is more movement on Utah's Capitol Hill this year to protect individuals' personal information. Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, is preparing a bill that would curb the flow of voter information. The Top of Utah pol's bill plans to protect birth-date data and allow an opt-in line to be on the registration form. The person registering to vote would then have to sign to allow the personal information to go public.
This seems a sound proposal. It puts the power of one's personal information in the hands of the registrant. While for most current registered voters in Utah the issue is moot, as their data is already out there, over the years more and more young adults, later registrants, or move-ins to the state will see greater privacy rights if they choose to have them.
We live in an era -- that seemed to begin sometime after Sept. 11 -- of an obsessive need for government, the Internet, and other private ventures to have control over our personal information and preferences. Mining of data, online or otherwise, is routine today.
Any step, however, small, toward retaining privacy for individuals is a step worth taking. We hope Rep. Edwards' efforts are successful.