Private Apps, Police Records, and Mugshots…OH MY!

In an effort to expand transparency, states look to redefine what records are (or aren’t) accessible to the public under current public record laws.

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Michigan lawmakers OK ban on FOIA-avoidant apps for state employees

The Michigan House on Tuesday approved a ban on the use of messaging apps or other software on state employees’ work-issued electronic devices if the technology would prevent communications from being subject to public record requests.

The bill will now go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for approval.

The Detroit Free Press reported on the use of an app called Signal by some State Police officers in January. The department required any officers with “non-standard communications” apps to remove them by Feb. 10.

Read More | U.S. News

Freedom of Information Isn't Free: Finding Funding for Public Records Management Software

Join Grants Office and special guests from GovQA and the National Association of Counties (NACo) on Thursday, Nov. 18 to learn how you can leverage ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to purchase public records management software for your organization.


New Wisconsin bill would grant more access to police records for journalists and the public

A new bill introduced aims to put more power in the hands of journalists and the public to obtain police records. If it were to become law, the bill would expand public and media access to internal investigation records, particularly those involving police misconduct cases.

The bill creates a number of requirements for Wisconsin’s public records laws, making certain records eligible for public disclosure without prior notice to the record subject. These records can include reports or investigations involving the discharge of a firearm by a law enforcement officer, incidents where use of force resulted in death or great bodily injury, records pertaining to sustained findings of sexual assault by officers, records detailing sustained findings of excessive or unreasonable force, to name a few. Records involving questionable and discriminatory written or verbal statements by officers could also be included, as well as any record relating to an unlawful arrest or search.

Additionally, the bill provides protections for victims, complainants, witnesses and whistleblowers.

Read More | Wisconsin Examiner

Language in new Oregon “mugshot” law leaves public release decision up to local agencies

A new law passed earlier this year could change how the public gets to view mugshots. But months later, there have been no further guidelines for how the law should be utilized.

House Bill 3273 was signed into law by the governor this summer and limits how booking photos are released to the public. Under the new law, booking photos, or “mugshots”, can only be released to the public if its in the public interest, like for catching a suspect or fugitive. But the bill’s language leaves that up to each agency.

Tim Gleason, a University of Oregon professor who’s expertise is in public record and communication law, says the new law was likely created in good interest but is still something to be critical of because of how it impacts public access to information.

Backers of the bill says it was spurred on by the backlash people faced after being arrested and having their photo published, especially following 2020’s protests and demonstrations. House Bill 3047 was also passed alongside this law, and it specifically takes aim at the act of doxing.

Read More | Fox 26 News


Washington Supreme Court to decide police privacy case

The Washington Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday [Nov. 9] in a case that will decide whether the identities of Seattle police officers who attended events in the nation’s capital on the day of the insurrection are protected under the state’s public records law.

The justices must also decide whether those officers can continue their court filings anonymously. The high court took the case under advisement and said it would rule at a later date.

Lawyers for Sam Sueoka, who filed a public records act request for the city’s Office of Police Accountability investigation into the officers’ activities on Jan. 6, said the public has a right to know who they are.

But the officers’ attorneys said they had a First Amendment right to attend a political rally and releasing their names could subject them to harassment and potentially violence.

Read More | U.S. News


Results Webinar Recording: 2022 Peers in Public Records Survey

Are your priorities aligned with those of your Peers?

On November 16th at 2:00pm CST GovQA walked through the early findings from the largest survey of its kind, the PiPRSurvey.

Watch the recording for the trends we’ve been seeing this year along with insight into how these trends compare to findings from the 2020 and 2021 PiPRSurvey. You’ll walk away from the video with a better understanding of what your Peers on the Public Records frontlines are prioritizing as they move into 2022.

Watch the PiPRSurvey Early Findings Webinar

Read More | GovQA

GovQA's Upcoming Events

GovQA regularly hosts and moderates roundtables and webinars with partners, associations, customers, and other subject matter experts to create and expand opportunities for state and local government agency members to discuss the challenges they face.

Texas e-Records Conference

ARMA Liberty Bell 

Grants Office Webinar

See All Upcoming Events

The Peers in Public Records Newsletter (formerly FOIA News) is a bi-monthly e-newsletter brought to you by GovQA. It is a collection of the latest trends in public record requests and government transparency initiatives, shared stories, informative case studies, and actionable knowledge that will help you calm the chaos and keep your organization compliant. Send your comments to

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