Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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August 5,1996


I am transmitting to the Secretary of State, with my signature, 96-H-8293, Substitute A, as amended, "An Act Relating to 911 Emergency Telephone Number Act."

This Act prohibits the public disclosure of telephone calls made to the State 911 system absent me written consent of the caller or an order of the court.

I support this legislation. By providing confidentiality for 911 calls, this Act serves to protect 911 callers from unwanted invasions of privacy and potential public embarrassment. Such protections reasonably can be expected to enhance the use of this important emergency telephone system by removing some reservations by some individuals to make 911 calls.

Opponents have expressed concern that this legislation may limit accountability of the 911 authority to the public. I believe, however, that this legislation provides safeguards sufficient to ensure such accountability. Since the protection from disclosure applies only to the substance of the call and the identity of the caller, information could be made available as to the number of calls received by the 911 system and the timeliness of actions taken by the system in response. Individual callers to 911 who believe that their calls are not being handled appropriately can give permission to release the substance of the call for public review. In addition, those third parties, including governmental agencies, who have concerns about the operation of 911 can bring a legal action seeking to obtain a court order for release of appropriate information. These safeguards adequately protect the public's interest in and oversight of the operation of 911.

With this message, I sign this bill into law.


Lincoln Almond