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I live in an apartment in New Jersey and I received an email from someone I don't know today. He said he lives in the same building and asked if I work from home and am interested in being his dog walker.

My friend who also lives here but doesn't work from home did not receive this email. So obviously the sender knows who works from home. But how did he get my email address and exactly know my status.

Is it legal for an apartment manager to give him my personal contact and work status without my permission. I am starting to worry about the information I have put on my rental application form.

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In general, there are few laws in the US that restrict a person's freedom to disclose a fact known about another person. Examples of such limits are HIPAA which restricts health-professionals disclosure of medical information, and FERPA which restricts an educational institution's disclosure of student records. There are laws that restrict government disclosure of information about individuals.

Confidentiality might be guaranteed via a contract, if there is a non-disclosure clause in the contract. A number of (major) businesses do have privacy policies where they promise not to disclose your information, or do so only in a specified way: such things generally exist for internet businesses. Some states like California have mandatory privacy policy laws. In New Jersey, there is simply the traditional tort claims of intrusion upon solitude, unreasonable publicity of private life, false light, and appropriation of name or likeness. Passing along general information about a person or a way to contact them would not be seen as an unreasonable intrusion.

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As a general rule, if you share your information with others, having not first established a framework for confidentiality, then they are free to share it as they please. There are limitations in specific laws and regulations for particular circumstances (like healthcare privacy, trade secrets, FERPA school-record privacy or client confidentiality with lawyers). Doing business with an apartment manager is not usually one of them.

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