Seattle mistakenly released city emails

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

Weeks ago, the Seattle Information Technology department mistakenly released 34 gigabytes of emails to and from city employees without any personal information redacted.

On Tuesday, the city released a statement acknowledging the “error.”  

KIRO 7 was tipped off about the mistake by a City of Seattle employee. That employee wanted to remain anonymous, but was concerned that most of the City’s nearly 10,000 employees were not aware of the incident, despite the emails being shared in late August.

Personal information is typically redacted before the results of a Public Disclosure Request are shared with a requester.

But after a recent request, the first 255 characters of all emails sent to and from the City of Seattle during a 54-day period earlier this year were sent to a requester who wanted the email metadata, not the emails themselves.

In a blog post from Aug. 22, the requester wrote about the "34 Gb of email dumps" he received from Seattle's “Information and Technology” department.

He also wrote: "I spent some time last night looking through what they sent me, and it very likely violates just about every, ‘do not release X’ sections of Washington's public record(s) law."

The city's Chief Technology Officer told KIRO 7 on Tuesday the release was a "mistake" caused by "human error."

Michael Mattmiller also said the requester is cooperating, has deleted all the information, and promised not to publicize it by signing an affidavit.

Mattmiller said, the city is taking this "very seriously" and is working "to make sure it doesn't happen again."


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