The most recent article in the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council’s (WISFOIC) Right to Know Series (which I love — archives here) brings up the interesting point that modern day communications have left Wisconsin’s open record statutes in the dust. As I’ve talked about before, text messaging is already a contentious point between some Madison policy makers, and those are only the tip of the iceberg. As Roger Allen puts it:
[W]hat obligations does a records custodian have to preserve metadata, computer systems logs (used by information technology folks on daily basis to assess systems functions), voicemail, instant messaging, text messaging, or chat room discussions?
Beyond those, what about internet search histories (that bane of sexual misfits everywhere), lists of websites visited by public employees while on the job and the time spent on those websites, or any other form of interacting with the wider world that we may not even have thought of yet?
I’m pretty positive that there are records in each one of these categories that the public would be interested to see — and deserves to know about. Luckily for us, the City of Madison has been working to review and update it’s openness ordinance for the past three (!) years. That work has culminated in a newly proposed ordinance called Legislative File No. 09158. Take a look and tell me what you think of the proposal.