Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Text messages and freedom of information

Text messages are hot news in the freedom of information community right now. Locally, Whanganui District Councillor Michael Laws' comment about them has sparked a LGOIMA request, which looks set to go to the Ombudsman, as well as a series of related requests to government ministries about how they handle their Public Records Act obligations around them. In the UK, Ministers have just been instructed that they are not exempt and must be disclosed on request like any other official information. And in Canada, the Information Commissioner has just launched an investigation into them:

At this time, there is no Government-wide policy on the use of text-based peer-to-peer forms of communication. Consequently, the Information Commissioner has initiated a systemic investigation into whether text-based messages containing government information sent from, or received on, government issued wireless devices are properly managed and preserved to ensure the right of access to information.

Eleven institutions have been selected for review based on a number of factors, such as the size of the institution, the volume of requests it receives in a year, or its responsibilities for providing direction and assistance on recordkeeping for the Government of Canada.

it will be interesting to see what recommendations they make.