Monday, March 06, 2017
Courts - "Calif Supreme Court: No, you can’t hide public records on a private account"
On Feb. 2 the ILB posted: "Cal's top court to decide whether emails and texts sent on personal devices are public record."
Late last week Cyrus Farivar reported in ArsTechnica:
The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that state and local officials must disclose public records even if those "writings" are held on private devices or accounts. The City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara had argued that such records could be exempted from the California Public Records Act.
The case dates back to 2009, when Ted Smith, a local environment activist, filed a public records request about various San Jose officials' requests concerning local development efforts. When records came back that did not include materials from personal devices or accounts, he sued.
The state Supreme Court was unequivocal in its conclusion:CPRA and the Constitution strike a careful balance between public access and personal privacy. This case concerns how that balance is served when documents concerning official business are created or stored outside the workplace. The issue is a narrow one: Are writings concerning the conduct of public business beyond CPRA's reach merely because they were sent or received using a non governmental account? Considering the statute's language and the important policy interests it serves, the answer is no. Employees' communications about official agency business may be subject to CPRA regardless of the type of account used in their preparation or transmission.According to the Associated Press, 26 states have laws that explicitly make such private communications related to government business officially part of public records — however, that list does not include California.