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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bill Would Amend Definition of Public Records Under FOIA

Senate Bill 1977 has been introduced that would amend the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to modify the definition of "public records." The change is noted below:
   (c) "Public records" means all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for the public body , or having been or being used by , received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body.
There is no legislative history on this proposed legislation yet since it was just introduced. Presumably the legislature is trying to get at records that have not been transmitted or delivered to the public body. The potential problem with this legislation is in its administration - if the public body has never received the particular record, complying with a FOIA request for that record could be difficult. For example, text messages sent/received on a public official or employee's private device are not readily available to the public body to comply with the very short time-frame required for a FOIA response (5 business days). And, the public body has no right to request those records from the cell phone provider where the device and account is entirely privately funded.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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