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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

City in Violation of FOIA for Redacting PINs

In its 9th binding opinion for 2018, the PAC found a public body in violation of FOIA for redacting the Parcel Identification Numbers (PINs) from records released in response to the FOIA request. PAC Op. 18-009.

A FOIA request was filed with a Chicago agency requesting records relating to variances granted under the City's shared housing ordinance. The request specifically asked that the records include the PINs for each parcel. The City responded to the FOIA by providing the requested records, but redacted the PINs, citing the "private information" exception under 7(1)(b) of FOIA. 

The requester appealed to the PAC, and the PAC ruled against the public body, rejecting its argument that the PINs for individual parcels are "unique identifiers" under 7(1)(b) of FOIA. The PAC noted that the phrase "unique identifier" is intended to apply to information about people (such as a social security number), and not information about property. The PAC also noted that PINs are publicly available information.  The PAC also rejected the City's argument that release of the PINs would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under 7(1)(c) of FOIA. The PAC determined that the interest in release of information about homes that are used as vacation rentals in Chicago outweighed any interest in the property owners in keeping that information private.

Post authored by Julie Tappendorf


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