Most towns and cities in New Jersey require that you register and / or license your dog. It is a way for them to keep track of animals living in the city in the event of an incident and to ensure that pets are vaccinated against rabies.
However, licensing your dog can also open you up to spam, spam, and robocalls from companies who want to sell you products and services for your dog. And there is nothing you can do about it.
The New Jersey State Supreme Court has ruled that the names and addresses of people who have received a dog license are on public record and can be obtained through the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.
In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled that: “Owning a dog is an essentially public undertaking in which people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that exempts their personal information from disclosure under the confidentiality clause of the ‘OPRA. “
The case was brought by Ernest Bozzi. Bozzi runs a business in Burlington County and has searched for permit records in several towns across NJ in an attempt to sell dog owners an invisible fence. Several cities tried to block his requests, but judges generally sided with Bozzi. This case concerned Jersey City’s refusal to provide information to Bozzi via an OPRA request.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Fabiana Pierre-Louis points out that dog owners would have a reasonable presumption that the personal information they provided to Jersey City for the purpose of obtaining a dog license would remain private.
In the opinion of Justice Pierre-Louis, “this reasonable expectation of privacy should recognize the right of every citizen not to see every piece of information provided to the government disclosed for reasons that do not serve the objective. OPRA ”, which she said was aimed at ensuring transparency in government operations.
Companies obtaining your personal information through OPRA requests is nothing new, but a growing number of cities are trying to push back on these demands. Business owners have generally been successful in challenging a city’s rejection of their application.
Bozzi’s lawyer did not apologize for seeking this information, saying his client has a right to seek information collected by the government.
Lawyer Donald M. Doherty Jr, told NJ.com his client isn’t the bad guy, it’s the government. “The limits,” Doherty said, “should be placed on what the government collects.”
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