99-07Posted on Nov 23, 1999 in Formal Opinions
Opinion Letter No. 99-07
November 23, 1999
Identities of Complainants to DOH
The Department of Health (“DOH”) often receives complaints from members of the public on possible civil law violations. The DOH received a request for records that would disclose the identity of a person who reported an alleged food labeling violation. The DOH asserted that if it must make identities of informants public, its ability to investigate alleged violations of the law will be chilled because informants have expressed concerns about the disclosure of their identities due to fear of retaliation.
The OIP found that the identities of these informants may be withheld from public disclosure because disclosure would likely cause the frustration of the DOH’s legitimate government function enforcing civil laws under section 92F-13(3), Hawaii Revised Statutes. This may include redaction of information in addition to a person’s name, if it would lead to the identification of the individual.