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Bill Would Restrain Online Disclosures By The Secretary Of State

California's legislature reconvened last week for the second year of its biennium.  Assemblyman Marc Steinorth began the session by introducing a bill requiring the Secretary of State to exclude certain personal information that is provided online.  

The General Corporation Law requires California corporations to file an annual statement.  Cal. Corp. Code § 1502.  Among other things, the statement must include the names and business or residence address of the corporation's directors and officers.  The statute currently requires the Secretary of State to provide access to this information "by means of an online database".  A year ago, the Secretary of State began making images of these annual statements available online in portable data format (PDF).  See California Secretary Of State Upgrades Business Searches.  Assemblyman Steinorth's bill, AB 1781, would amend the statute to provide: "However, the Secretary of State shall exclude personal information contained in the statement, including, but not limited to, home addresses and personal signatures, from the online database".  

Anyone who concerned about the online publication of his or her residence address can easily avoid disclosure by listing their business, rather than residence, address on the annual statement.  It should also be noted that AB 1781only prohibits online disclosures; it would not prohibit disclosure pursuant to a request under the Public Records Act.  I also find it curious that the bill does not address annual statements required to be filed under other provisions of the Corporations Code (e.g., §§ 6210, 8210, & 17702.09).

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