Under state law, there is no distinction between the treatment of electronic messages and paper documents in terms of storage and retention. Both types of documents are grouped together within the general definition of a “government record” as “information maintained by an agency in written, auditory, visual, electronic, or other physical form.” Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-3. Any case or opinion that references the treatment and retention of “government records” applies equally to electronic messages and paper documents.

Hawaii’s legislature deferred two bills in 2009 that would have amended the definition of “government record” to expressly include electronic records. HI S.B. 678 and 1652 were to be discussed further in committee. Several bills were also introduced in 2009 to address retention — primarily to incorporate the term “maintain” into the law and to require agencies to create a plan for record retention. These bills, too, were deferred for further committee discussion.

The state’s Office of Information Practices issued an opinion that intra-agency e-mail must be disclosed in a matter related to an alleged criminal violation. OIP Op. Ltr. No. 04-12 (July 9, 2004).