City Must Cease Violating Privacy of Residents

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
January 14, 2009 12:00 am

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Ordinance Requiring Landlords to Submit Personal Information and Photos of Tenants is Invasive and Illegal

MAPLE HEIGHTS, OH- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter today to John Montello, law director for the city of Maple Heights urging city officials to stop enforcement of an unlawful ordinance that requires landlords to submit personal information and photos of their tenants.

ACLU of Ohio Cooperating Attorney Melvyn R. Durchslag said, “City officials have no right to demand this type of personal, private information from individuals who have committed no crime and are simply living in the city. Forcing residents to submit data and photo identification in a registration-style system is draconian and smacks of a ‘Big Brother’ regime.”

Records that the ACLU object to requiring landlords compile include the name of each resident and a photo identification, the number of adults and children in the unit, the name and age of any children attending school as well as the name of the school, and the signature of the resident.

The nature of the data requested by the city suggests that officials plan to use the information to determine if students in local schools reside in the district. School administration already requires parents to sign statements affirming they are eligible to enroll.

“This is a thinly veiled attempt by the city to police whether those enrolled in school live in the district. In their zeal to search out a few people who may be improperly registered for school, city officials have jeopardized residents’ personal information and contributed to our ever-expanding surveillance society” Durchslag added.

In its letter to Montello, the ACLU notes that this is not the first time the organization has challenged Maple Heights officials’ desire to use personal information to police whether out of district students were enrolled in their schools. In 2002, the ACLU successfully sued the Maple Heights School District for requiring children to live in a residence that complied with the city’s building code in order to attend school.

The ACLU encourages any resident who has been forced to hand over this information to call its offices at (216)472-2200.

Read the letter to the Maple Heights law director

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