Electronic messages are public records, too.

As reported by the Miami Herald,  The Florida Public Service Commission chairman ordered his agency to disable all text messaging on state-issued Blackberrys as questions continued about whether staff used the devices to skirt public records laws. The commission has been targeted for potential ethics violations.

Virginia officials would do well to remember that written electronic communications are to be evaluated for FOIA purposes in the same way that a piece of paper, letter, memo, card, etc. would be.

E-mail, instant message, texting, Tweets?

If the message contains purely personal information, it's not a public record. But if it discusses public business, it is a public record that can be requested through FOIA. Period.

An exemption might apply to all or part of the message, but if an exemption does not apply, the messages must be disclosed, regardless of whether the official is using a personal computer, phone or PDA.

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