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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

PAC Finds No FOIA Violation Where Internet Logs Do Not Exist

In a recent advisory (non-binding) PAC opinion, the Public Access Counselor of the Attorney General's office found in favor of a public body in a FOIA dispute involving a request for "internet logs." 2019 PAC 58425

A requester had filed a FOIA request asking a township to provide copies of "internet activity logs" of the supervisor and board of trustees. After the township responded that it had no responsive records, the requester filed a request for review with the PAC. The township responded that it had contacted its IT consultant to search the township's computer system and found no responsive records for the requested time-frame. The township explained that the township's network deletes all internet history records on a daily basis, so no records existed. The requester claimed that the township was obligated to retain and maintain browsing history information.

The PAC first noted that the PAC's authority is limited to alleged violations of FOIA and OMA, and does not extend to allegations of violations of records retention laws such as the Local Records Act. Here, the township conducted a reasonable search for the requested records, and there was no evidence that the records existed at the time of the search. As a result, the PAC found no violation of FOIA.

Disclaimer: Ancel Glink represents the township in this case


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