Posted on Dec 9, 2005 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 05-18
December 9, 2005
Disclosure of Plantation Archive Records (RFO 03-044) 

OIP received a request for an opinion regarding the records received from Hawaii Sugar Planters’ Association that comprise the Plantation Archives held by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library (“Library”). Specifically, the requestee asked whether the records are accessible to the public and whether the Library may implement a policy of disclosing records created eighty years or more ago, regardless of potential issues regarding personal privacy interests.

Whether, in accordance with the Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified), chapter 92F, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) (“UIPA”), the Library may implement a policy of allowing public access to records created over 80 years ago that are part of the Plantation Archives, including social security numbers and personal income tax information contained in the records.

In general, a policy allowing public access to records that are 80 or more years old is consistent with the UIPA.  It is based upon the legislature’s determination that records of such age maintained by the state archives is public.   However, with respect to income tax records and any other records made confidential by statute, absent a specific statutory provision allowing disclosure of those records, OIP does not believe that the UIPA supports a policy of disclosure and suggests that the Library consult with its attorney before implementing such a policy.

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