Virginia

“Public records” subject to the Freedom of Information Act include electronic records. The Virginia Supreme Court considered the circumstances in which an exchange of e-mail messages between elected officials constitutes a “meeting” subject to the FOIA provisions. In evaluating the issue, the court specifically noted that “there is no question that e-mails fall within the definition of public records under [FOIA].” Beck v. Shelton, 593 S.E.2d 195, 199 (Va. 2004).

Retention of electronic records is governed by the Virginia Public Records Act, Va. Code § 42.1-76, et seq. (the “VPRA”). Whether an electronic communication falls within the VPRA’s retention mandates depends on the content of the communication, not its form. Va. Code § 42.1-77. Accordingly, the VPRA pertains to all types of electronic communications so long as the information contained within “documents a transaction or activity by or with any public officer, agency or employee of an agency.”