Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act & Social Media
The Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) governs the maintenance of, and public access to, government records in Hawaii. The purpose of the Act is to promote conducting government business “as openly as possible.” The Act covers records in “electronic or other physical form”, therefore social media records in Hawaii should be considered a public government record.
Show Hawaii law text
Excerpt from the Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act.
PART 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS AND DEFINITIONS
[§92F-2] Purposes; rules of construction. In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Government agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the government processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public’s interest. Therefore the legislature declares that it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy—the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and action of government agencies—shall be conducted as openly as possible.
§92F-3] General definitions. Unless the context otherwise requires, in this chapter:
“Agency” means any unit of government in this State, any county, or any combination of counties; department; institution; board; commission; district; council; bureau; office; governing authority; other instrumentality of state or county government; or corporation or other establishment owned, operated, or managed by or on behalf of this State or any county, but does not include the nonadministrative functions of the courts of this State.
“Government record” means information maintained by an agency in written, auditory, visual, electronic, or other physical form.
Guidance from Hawaii Office of Information Practices
The Hawaii Office of Information Practices has provided guidance on UIPA which highlights that the law’s intent is to “conduct government as openly as possible”. The guidance also emphasizes the mandate that “all government records be open to public inspection unless access is specifically restricted.” Social media records in Hawaii fall under the Act’s broad definition of a ‘public record’ and are therefore subject to records retention requirements.
View the Office of Information Practices Guidance
Excerpt from the Guide to Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act.
In 1988, the Hawaii State Legislature enacted the Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified) (“UIPA”) based upon the premise that a democracy vests the people with the ultimate decision-making power and government exists only to aid the people in the exercise of that power. Recognizing public scrutiny and participation to be essential to the exercise of that power, the Legislature declared it to be the policy of this state to conduct government as openly as possible, tempered by the right of the people to privacy as embodied in our state constitution. To that end, the UIPA mandates that all government records be open to public inspection unless access is specifically restricted or closed by law.
What Records Does the UIPA Cover?
The UIPA requires agencies to disclose all “government records.” This term is defined broadly to include any information maintained by an agency that is recorded in any physical form.
OIP has interpreted “maintained” to mean information physically possessed or administratively controlled by an agency. An agency has administrative control over a record where it has the right to gain access to the record. For example, where an agency contracts with a private company and has the right to review the records held by the company under the contract, those records would be considered government records, even if they are not physically in the agency’s office.
Hawaii Social Media Records Management in Practice
The Hawaii State senate implemented a robust Social Media Use Policy to “foster the most appropriate and effective” use of social media networks. The policy clearly identifies that the use of social media must comply with applicable laws and specifically identifies records retention policies as being applicable. This serves as a model for handling social media records in Hawaii to mitigate risk of Uniform Information Practices Act litigation.
View the Hawaii State Senate's Social Media Policy
Excerpt from the Hawaii State Senate Social Media Use Policy.
Sec. 2.1 Policy
(1) General Rule. The use of social media shall conform to Senate rules, policies, guidelines, procedures; all applicable federal, state, and county laws, ordinances regulations and policies including, but not limited to, copyright, records retention, ethics, campaign, and privacy laws; and shall be professional in nature and limited to legislative purposes