Arkansas judge rules text messages in public-records dispute subject to disclosure

Text messages between a state agency director and vendor’s representative are public under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and the representative’s name “should be disclosed,” a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled Monday. “The messages reflect the performance or lack of performance of official functions because they inextricably intertwine personal and public-business matters such that…

More

Editorial – Texts to student phone numbers obtained via FOI request not a violation

Students at several of the commonwealth’s public universities got a surprise on their cell phones last fall: A text message urged them to register to vote, and to support the local Democrat running for the House of Delegates. The students’ cell phone numbers were obtained through a Freedom of Information request made by NextGen Virginia,…

More

IN: Text messages conducting official business are public record even if sent on private phone

Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke H. Britt sent a letter to the City of South Bend's legal department advising that any public business conducted in writing, irrespective of medium, is considered public record.  The department inquired for Britt's advice clarifying Indiana's Access to Public Records Act as it pertains to text messages.

The entirety of the letter can be found here.

More

San Francisco supervisors using messaging app that lets texts vanish

An encrypted messaging app that allows users to delete their texts automatically after just a few seconds has become a favored way of communicating among some San Francisco supervisors and their aides, raising questions about whether technological advances are subverting public-records laws.

The app, Telegram, was created by a Russian entrepreneur and claims to be 100 percent encrypted. It is one of several apps, including Snapchat, Wickr and Frankly, that offer self-destructing messages.

More

Texts count as public records, judge rules

The city must preserve text messages sent and received in the course of public business as public records under the state Freedom of Information Act, a judge has ruled.

Circuit Judge Jack Doyle made the decision in a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. The order was signed and entered Thursday.

More

Opinion: EPA’s Gina McCarthy broke the law by destroying official text messages and should resign

Text messages sent on a private telephone between Maureen McDonnell, wife of Bob McDonnell, and businessman Johnnie Williams are key evidence in the corruption trial of the former Virginia governor, according to the Washington Post.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s aides also produced text messages in the “Bridgegate” investigation, again using private telephones.

More

Residents complain electronic devices close open meetings

From The Marietta Daily Journal: MARIETTA — Elected leaders across Georgia have been using smartphones and iPads for city business, helping them work smarter and more efficiently, they say.

But when they tap out a message to a fellow board member during a meeting, some residents have complained that they feel locked out of a business meeting that is supposed to be open to the public.

Visit The Marietta Daily Journal for more.

More

Orange County ‘textgate’ crowd got off easy for destroying records

From Orlando Sentinel: My dad used to say, "Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law."

Dad never lived in Florida.

Here, authorities say Orange County commissioners broke the law many times over — but got off with a slap on the wrist — all because they claimed they didn't know they were doing wrong.

[. . .]

Perhaps you think I'm being simplistic. But look at the logic these guys used to claim ignorance:

More