Prior to September 1st, Texans were unclear as to whether or not government communication in the form of electronic messages (think email, Facebook posts, and instant messages) were considered public information.
In a victory for open government supporters, a modernization of the Texas Public Information Act contained in Senate Bill 1368 makes it clear that electronic messages dealing with official business are public record, regardless of the type of message or device it’s transmitted on.
Rule becomes law
The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas reports that Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has been ruling for some time that these messages are public, and now it will be codified into law.
“The clear understanding is, if you’re performing governmental functions, no matter the device, it’s subject to the Texas Public Information Act,” Austin attorney Laura Lee Prather told the Dallas News. Prather specializes in First Amendment issues and worked closely with lawmakers and open government advocates to get these bills passed.
Looking for more information on government record keeping? Check out our recent blog post here.