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Monday, June 25, 2012

Court Upholds PAC Opinion that Texts are Subject to FOIA

In a previous blog post, we reported on a PAC opinion that was issued last November determining that text messages between public officials pertaining to public business are subject to release under FOIA, even if transmitted on privately owned cell phones.  That opinion was appealed to the Sangamon County circuit court.  In an oral ruling issued on June 11, 2012, the Circuit Court Judge upheld the PAC opinion. 

What does that mean for local government officials?  As we discussed previously, public bodies and officials should be aware of the position taken by the PAC with respect to electronic communications. Local officials who use their personal cell phones, computers, tablets, and other electronic devices to communicate on government business should be advised that their communications may be subject to FOIA, even if they are not transmitted by or do not “pass through” city equipment. Local governments may need to consider implementing local policies to govern the use of personal equipment for communications about government business consistent with the PAC’s opinion.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink.


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