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Elsewhere, public records go to private companies

By John W. Reagor Jr. Published: October 12, 2001
With the advent of the Internet, electronic government records are becoming valuable commodities.

Government bodies in other states have tried to sell exclusive rights to public records to private companies, which then provide access to paying customers.

A survey of state agencies conducted by FOI Oklahoma Inc., The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, The Associated Press and the Oklahoma Press Association found that this situation does not exist in Oklahoma.

"It hasn't become a problem because the public has said they want copies of records when they want them, and not from a company that charges more for the records," said Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the press association.

According to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, government bodies are allowed to sell records for the cost of duplication and materials to any person or organization, including third-party vendors.

The state Election Board allows the sale of statewide voter registration records on nine-track tape for $150. The board keeps a record of individuals and companies that purchase the database.

On this list are political action committees, individuals and Internet-based information companies., a division of in Boulder, Colo., is one of the companies that bought the statewide voter registration database.

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