Thursday, July 29, 2010

Van Hollen Says Supreme Court's Recent Ruling Restricting Public Access to Government Workers' Personal E-mails Should be Applied Narrowly

In the aftermath of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's 5-2 ruling that, just because a public employee uses a work computer to send an e-mail, it doesn't automatically make that message subject to the state open records law, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says this ruling should be applied narrowly.
...Van Hollen said the public should be able to seek records under the law that would shed light on how well government is working and whether public employees are wasting time during work hours.

"Records custodians should be mindful of the policy behind the public records law," Van Hollen wrote in the two-page memo. "If there is any aspect of the e-mail that may shed light on governmental functions and responsibilities, the relevant content must be released as any other record would be released under the public records law."

Even if the personal e-mails of public workers are private, Van Hollen said, the public can still request statistical records about public workers' e-mail use that would show how many of their e-mails for a given time period dealt with official government business and how many dealt with personal affairs. Van Hollen said that, as in the past, officials can still black out personal information from e-mails also dealing with public business and then release the records.

No comments:

Post a Comment