The office of General Counsel issued the following informal opinion on August 1, 2000, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

Re: Applicability of FOIL exception for unwarranted invasion of personal privacy to a request for names of newly licensed insurance agents

An agency of a company is interested in obtaining the names and addresses of newly licensed New York insurance agents. The agency stated that this information will be used to contact and educate these individuals with respect to that agency's insurance sales opportunities (i.e. the companies it sells for, types of insurance products available to sell, etc.) and how to contact the agency. The agency inquired as to whether the FOIL exceptions for unwarranted invasions of personal privacy contained in the N.Y. Public Officer's Law, in particular §89 (2)(b)(iii) (McKinney 1988 and Supp.2000) thereof, would apply were it to make a FOIL request for such records.

Under the Public Officer's Law, records otherwise available under Article 6, Freedom of Information Law, may be withheld to prevent unwarranted invasions of personal privacy. Subdivision (2)(b)(iii) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

"(b) an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy includes, but shall not be limited to:

(iii) sale or release of lists of names and addresses if such lists would be used for commercial or fund raising purposes;"

The personal privacy exception of Section 89 (2)(b)(iii) does not apply to the names and business addresses of newly licensed New York Insurance agents. See Comm. Open Gov't. AO (December 19, 1994).

For further information you may contact Associate Attorney Barbara Kluger at the New York City Office.