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California court: Private email exempt from open records law

Published On: Apr 01 2014 06:06:25 PM CDT
SAN JOSE, Calif. -

A California appeals court has ruled that private text messages, emails and other electronic communications sent and received by public officials on their own devices are not public records regardless of the topic.

The 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose ruled last week that the state's Public Records Act doesn't extend to public officials' private devices.

Since the advent of email, activists and others in the state have been battling with officials at all levels of government over whether public issues discussed on privately owned phones, computers and tablets and managed with personal accounts are covered by the Public Records Act.

The March 27 ruling reverses a lower court decision in favor of an environmental activist seeking access to messages sent on private devices through private accounts owned by San Jose's mayor and city council.