Magazine article Information Management

Work E-Mail Is Public Record

Magazine article Information Management

Work E-Mail Is Public Record

Article excerpt

Wisconsin state law requires county offices to have processes in place to save e-mails containing county business and make them available for public viewing, but apparently Ozaukee County supervisors never got the memo.

Officials in that county routinely discuss county business via e-mail on their private computers, outside the public's view, according to a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report. The newspaper submitted requests to each of Ozaukee's 31 supervisors, seeking access to all county-related e-mails stored on their home computers. Because the supervisors use their personal computers to discuss county business, each supervisor is the official custodian of those records, according to the state attorney general's office. All but six of the 31 supervisors have e-mail addresses listed on the county Web site, and 22 list them in the county's official directory. Although there is no case law governing the use of e-mail by public officials, the attorney general's office and state Department of Administration have made it clear that communication in cyberspace by public officials can easily violate the state law and may even subject Offending officials to civil and criminal actions. …

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