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In Mississippi, Gov't Text Messages Are Officially Public Records 33

New submitter Chris Elkins (3620071) writes "Text messages [by public officials about government business] are now officially considered public records. An investigative reporter fought for access to what he believed were public records. He took his fight to the state and won. Mississippi open government and transparency advocates view this unanimous commission opinion as precedent-setting for all government bodies and public officials in the state."
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In Mississippi, Gov't Text Messages Are Officially Public Records

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  • Burners (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2014 @06:35PM (#46783559)

    In other news, sales of low-end prepaid phones in MS strangely doubled in recent days.

    The political class is adept [] at skirting [] these laws and going unpunished.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @06:48PM (#46783651)
    old 49-states quote. []
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:08PM (#46783811)
    At least, in this narrow instance. Elected (and appointed) government personnel are ostensibly held to a higher standard of accountability and transparency than other citizens. I am somewhat less certain about applying this to government employees (those hired for government jobs through civil hiring procedures), although there too I believe some higher standard should be held to apply, with said employees being notified in writing of the nature of that higher standard.

    The only viable alternative would be to explicitly require that government personnel use only government supplied mechanisms during performance of their appointed duties. If a government official is discussing government business, We The People have a right to know everything (unclassified) which is said by our government officials regarding the conduct of our government's business. Either use government supplied resources (neatly avoiding privacy issues) or get used to the fact that any public inquiry can reasonably be expected to expose more than public information to public scrutiny.

  • The end result of this will be: The state decides it's too expensive to track and just disables text messaging on all their service plans.

  • Public officials and government bodies in Mississippi have been breaking the law for a long time. Public records have retention schedules and archiving requirements, but these officials haven't been retaining and archiving text messages, which are public records. They don't currently have the technology or processes in place to handle this nor have they budgeted funds for this. They should have taken the law more seriously and adapted to open government sooner because now they have to scramble to make this

  • Not legally binding (Score:4, Informative)

    by CarsonChittom ( 2025388 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:41AM (#46785463) Homepage

    It's worth noting that this is an opinion by the Mississippi Ethics Commission [], and as such, while suggestive, is "advisory" and not legally binding.

    The main point of soliciting an opinion from the Ethics Commission is that a "public official" who acts upon such an advisory opinion is not subject to civil or criminal liability as long as the official "follows the direction of such opinion and acts in accordance therewith unless a court of competent jurisdiction, after a full hearing, shall judicially declare that such opinion is manifestly wrong and without any substantial support." (Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, section 25-4-17(i)(i) [])

  • .... what Mississippi said.
  • When the whole phone tapping scandal kicked off royally, was I the only one thinking "Shouldn't they be discussing our best interests anyway? And if they are then what's the fuss about"? As someone said before me, government officials should be more transparent if anything -phone records, taxes they pay, property they own -BRING IT ON.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.