California, like all states, is undergoing a wave of new regulatory requirements that make access to their information critical. An age long tension that we see with governmental data is that in theory, the data is the property of the public. However, there must also be a balance with the government’s ability to redact information for privacy and public policy purposes.
The production of data to the public and for a public records request and/or litigation is always fraught with this tension, which has led to a painful manual and laborious process for records managers, privacy officers and a multitude of other job descriptions that deal in data. Moreover, there are internal records within governmental bodies that must have safeguards put in place so that government employees do not have unfettered access to information they are not authorized to see. This is because governmental agencies are also bound by external laws that govern the privacy of individuals and many times government records contain PHI, PII, and PCI to name just a few.
Whether is it a Public Records Act (PRA) request, an information share for the purposes of piecing information together for gun sales, or litigation; states more than ever must begin to digitize and make their unstructured content searchable.
In this paper, I touch on some of the ways the Freedom of Information and proposed California laws may affect agencies and municipalities with regard to information governance, as well our call to action for implementation of information governance software.