While 1 V.S.A. §315, the statement of policy to the public records laws, recognizes a citizen’s right to privacy, there is no overarching privacy statute. For the most part, specific privacy protections are addressed within specific exemptions and other statutes. For example, 1 V.S.A. §317(c)(12) exempts “records concerning formulation of policy where such would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, if disclosed,” while 18 V.S.A. §7103 protects certain medical patient information from disclosure. The Right to Know Database can help identify exemptions to the Public Records Act that protect personably identifiable information.
There was an attempt to create a privacy/data security statute at the time the first public record act was enacted. On October 1, 1974 the Committee on Administrative Coordination submitted a report to Governor Thomas P. Salmon entitled, “Confidentiality, Privacy, and Security of Information; Data Collection, Storage and Use by Public Organizations in Vermont.” The report recognized the “quantum increase in the amount of information collected, stored, used and dispersed by individuals and, more importantly, by organizations.” It made a series of recommendation to guide the collection, use, and security of this information.
In 1975, a privacy bill (S. 33) was introduced at Governor Salmon’s request. The bill incorporated many of the committee’s recommendations. The bill went through various drafts and draft 1, draft 2 and draft 3 are included here, along with comments from Bill Russell of the Legislative Council to the changes in draft 3. The bill however was not enacted.