Public officials can’t shield government business by using personal email, state Supreme Court rules – Los Angeles Times

California’s highest court decided unanimously Thursday that government officials may be required to make public what they said about official business on their private telephones and personal computers.

In a decision written by Justice Carol A. Corrigan, the California Supreme Court said the state’s Public Records Act requires public officials to disclose emails, texts and voicemails from private devices if the communications involved government affairs.

“A city employee’s communications related to the conduct of public business do not cease to be public records just because they were sent or received using a personal account,” Corrigan wrote. “Sound public policy supports this result.”

Advocates for public access have long complained that government officials were deliberately using private devices to shield their communications from public records requests. Thursday’s decision is expected to end or at least stem the practice. 

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