NEFAC, Open Government Groups Caution Against Per Se Exemptions of Personal Data from Public Records

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition and government transparency groups across the country raised concerns today over efforts to redact certain personal information from state public records.

A national organization called the Uniform Law Commission is in the process of developing model legislation that all states can use to create per se public record redactions for a variety of categories of information pertaining to government employees.

“In our view, the existing proposal under consideration in the study committee would result in harmful and unnecessary damage to the public’s right to conduct oversight of the government,” wrote NEFAC and 24 other groups in a June 17 letter to the commission that was drafted by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

The groups explained that:

• The type of legislation being considered by the Uniform Law Commission is highly likely to result in serious unintended reductions in access to public records.

• Even where government agencies narrowly and appropriately implement legislation requiring redaction of private information of public employees, there is still a real cost to such redactions.

• As an alternative to the type of legislation being studied, the Uniform Law Commission should consider other measures that would not undermine government transparency.

“We encourage the Uniform Law Commission to consider the legitimate — and valuable — uses of the type of information that would be shielded from public view as a result of the model legislation being studied by the committee,” the groups wrote.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Leadership Circle donors include the Rhode Island Foundation, Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.