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CA Gov. Newsom Gives OK for State, Local Agencies to Destroy Emails

Some agencies have argued that email records are not subject to the CPRA

By Matthew Keys, October 17, 2019 5:36 pm

Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a measure last weekend that would have required local governments to preserve copies of email records for disclosure under the state’s public records law.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1184, would have required local and state agencies to preserve communications sent by email for at least two years so that members of the public may inspect and copy them.

Opponents of AB 1184 contended that California Public Records Act already creates burdens on public agencies in terms of staff time responding to requests, according to bill analysis. “Given the volume of electronic mail generated, opponents contend, a mandatory retention period of two years would place even greater burdens on agencies in terms of reviewing and identifying relevant e-mail.”

California’s open records law, the California Public Records Act (CPRA), already requires agencies to preserve public records for at least two years and prohibits agencies from destroying them beforehand. But some agencies have argued that email records are not subject to the CPRA and don’t need to be preserved under the law.

AB 1184, introduced by Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), would have corrected this thinking by codifying email records as subject to the preservation rule of the CPRA. The California News Publishers Association, a news media advocacy group, supported the measure.

Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill on Sunday. In a veto message, Gov. Newsom said AB 1184 did “not strike the appropriate balance” between transparency and the “burdens of a dramatic increase in records-retention requirements.”

Gov. Newsom said he was concerned that codifying a preservation requirement for email could require additional personnel and data management policies, the costs of which would be passed on to taxpayers.

The veto means local agencies could presumably choose to delete and destroy email records within the two-year retention period required by the CNPA. It could also mean that some local and state agencies that previously made email records available upon a request may choose to withhold those records by deleting them preemptively in an effort to avoid public disclosure.

Though AB 1184 failed, other initiatives to strengthen the CPRA were signed by Gov. Newsom this legislative session, including one that allowed requestors to bypass duplication fees imposed by some agencies by copying records using cameraphones.

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a newspaper reporter and contributor to the California Globe. He is based near Sacramento.
Matthew Keys
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4 thoughts on “CA Gov. Newsom Gives OK for State, Local Agencies to Destroy Emails

  1. This guy is a complete criminal as that’s what criminals do to hide evidence. He probably took his cue from Hilary and her Not so missing 33,000 e-mails she tried to destroy to hide her multiple felonies and espionage trial.. Same with Pretty Boy.

    1. Without the e-mails and such these Crooks would have to meet, etc.
      making it more difficult to Plan / Screw over the People of California.
      His true Criminal Colors are shining Through…

  2. In other states, government officials and employees’ emails are recognized as potentially public records, depending on their content. If I sent an email to a coworker asking him to go to lunch with me, that wouldn’t necessarily be a public record. I haven’t read the law, but I would hope that it wouldn’t require ALL emails to be kept for two years, but I would also hope that a separate law for emails wouldn’t be necessary in the first place! A record is a record regardless of format.

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