Posted on May 26, 2016 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. F16-04
May 26, 2016
Visitor Permits for the Kalaupapa Settlement

Requester asked the Department of Health (DOH) to publicly disclose each visitor permit authorizing persons to visit on specified dates the Kalaupapa Settlement (KS) on Molokai, Hawaii, which was established to house Hansen’s Disease patients (Visitor Permit).  DOH denied access to the Visitor Permits.

OIP found that section 92F-12(a)(13), HRS, expressly requires an agency to disclose certain information from each permit it issued, specifically the name, business address, type and status of the permit. As  this UIPA disclosure requirement applies to the Visitor Permits, OIP concluded that DOH must disclose the Visitor Permit naming each individual permitted to visit KS (Permittee) after redacting, if provided, the Permittee’s age, home address, and personal emergency telephone number.  These items of personal information about the Permittee are protected from public disclosure under the UIPA’s exception for “[g]overnment records which, if disclosed would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”  HRS § 92F-13(1) (2012).  On the other hand, a Permittee’s business address and general business telephone number, if provided on the Visitor Permit, must be disclosed because no UIPA exception applies to allow DOH to withhold them.  If the Permittee provided a direct work telephone number as an emergency telephone number, however, the direct work telephone number can be withheld under the UIPA’s exception for “[g]overnment records that, by their nature, must be confidential in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function.”  HRS § 92F-13(3) (2012).

It is generally appropriate for DOH to redact the name and address of the KS resident who is sponsoring the Permittee’s visit to KS (Sponsor) because the “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” exception protects this information about the Sponsor’s residency at KS.  However, where a Sponsor is an employee of DOH or the federal National Park Service (NPS) and is sponsoring persons in an official capacity and on behalf of the government agency, the Sponsor’s name as a government employee and government address, if applicable, must be disclosed because the “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” exception does not apply to this government employment information.  Also, where Visitor Permits are provided to the Damien Tour (DT) operator accompanying visitors on DT’s guided tours of KS, DOH must disclose the name of the Sponsor, who is the DT operator, because the “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” exception does not apply to information that is already public.

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