Records on Personal Electronic Devices and E-mail Accounts Subject to FOIA

From Franczek Radelet

The Attorney General recently issued an opinion that reinforces the risks associated with public officials’ use of personal electronic devices and e-mail accounts to conduct public business.  In the opinion, the Attorney General held that electronic records relating to the transaction of public business are “public records” subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), even if they are generated on a public official’s personal electronic device or e-mail account.  The implications of the opinion are significant because of the logistical hurdles, costs associated with searches of such technology, and potential privacy issues.  Public bodies may wish to adopt policies and procedures to avoid some of those implications.