Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
December 16, 2002
Mr. Robert E. Hager
Dear Mr. Hager:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173768.
The City of Rowlett (the "city"), which you represent, received a written request for the current "address, phone number, place of employment, business telephone, cell number, [and] forwarding address" of two named individuals. You contend that the requested information is made confidential under section 182.052 of the Utilities Code and, thus, must be withheld pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code.
Under section 552.101 of the Government Code, the city is required to withhold "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 182.052 of the Utilities Code provides, in part:
(a) Except as provided by Section 182.054, a government-operated utility may not disclose personal information in a customer's account record if the customer requests that the government-operated utility keep the information confidential.
Section 182.051 defines "personal information" as meaning an individual's address, telephone number, or social security number. Util. Code §182.051(4).
You inform us that the city "cannot locate any type of notice from the City to the customer advising of his right to confidentiality." Whether the customers' personal information is protected from disclosure by section 182.052 must be determined at the time the records request is made. See Open Records Decision No. 625 at 5-6 (1994). Consequently, if the city determines that the utility customers requested confidentiality of their personal information prior to the city's receipt of the current records request, then such information is made confidential under section 182.052 and, thus, must be withheld pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code.(1) Otherwise, the requested information must be released, even if the city has not yet advised the utility customers of their right to request confidentiality. See id.
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408,411 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the Texas Building and Procurement Commission at 512/475-2497.
If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. We note that a third party may challenge this ruling by filing suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor. Gov't Code § 552.325. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.
Karen A. Eckerle
c: Ms. Sandy Marshall
1. Please note, however, that section 182.052 does not apply to a utility customer that is a corporation, partnership, or other business association. See Open Records Decision No. 625 (1994) (corporations, partnerships, and other business associations do not qualify as "individuals").