California Employees' Business Conversations via Personal Tech May Become Public Record

This case could produce new rules that would extend the California Public Records Act to include business-related communication made via personal technology.

by News Staff, Techwire / February 7, 2017
Photo Credit: Flickr/Shawn

The California Supreme Court is mulling new rules that could require any government business conducted on personal telephones and computers be made public.

At a December hearing, the court discussed a case involving a community activist who filed public records requests after he suspected alleged “backroom dealing” at San Jose City Hall regarding funding for a downtown development project, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Now eight years after the close of the project, the activist, Ted Smith, apparently has yet to see some of the information he solicited. 

Smith’s case could produce new rules that would extend the California Public Records Act to include business-related communication made via personal technology. The Supreme Court’s discussion has many officials wondering what the costs and benefits of these potential rules could be.

The report notes that several local public-sector associations say that the new rules would be a “costly burden,” especially as state funding for the public records mandate has disappeared, and urge the state to side with San Jose. On the flipside, media lawyer Karl Olson argues that without extending the requirements, officials could purposely conceal communications by using personal devices. 

While many from both the public and private sectors continue weighing in on the repercussions of extending the California State Records Act, questions surrounding the future of the mandate still remain. The California Supreme Court is scheduled to make a decision on Smith’s case by early March.

This article was originally published on Techwire.

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