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d. Online dissemination

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  • Alaska

    The state public records laws encourage public agencies to provide access to information in a variety of ways that go beyond what the agencies are required to produce as basic “public records,” called “electronic products and services.” AS 40.25.115. Among the various categories of electronic products and services contemplated by the state is on-line access to electronic files and databases. The statute provides that fees for such access, as is the case with access to other electronic products and services providing more than just access to public records, can take into account the need to recover actual incremental costs of providing such electronic services and products, and a reasonable portion of the costs associated with building and maintaining the information system of the public agency. AS 40.25.115(b). See generally, [State Law on Electronic Records] §III.I of this guide. When offering on-line access to an electronic file or database, a public agency also must provide without charge on-line access to the electronic file or database through one or more public terminals. AS 40.25.115(f). See also, 2 AAC 96.450.

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  • Arizona

    No statute governs online dissemination

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  • Arkansas

    The FOIA requires that a “state agency, board, or commission” make certain records “publicly accessible, without charge, in electronic form via the Internet.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(b)(1). The custodian may respond to a FOIA request by directing the requestor to the specific Internet location of the information. Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(b)(2).
    There are five types of information that agencies, boards, and commissions must make available on the Internet. The first category of information is “[a] description of its organization, including central and field offices, the general course and method of its operations” as well as the organization’s “established locations” and contact information for those locations, including “telephone numbers and street, mailing, electronic mail, and internet addresses and the methods by which the public may obtain access to public records.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(1).
    The second type of information that the organization must provide is “[a] list and general description of its records, including computer databases.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(2).
    The third type of information that the organization must provide is “[i]ts regulations, rules of procedure, any formally proposed changes, and all other written statements of policy or interpretations formulated, adopted, or used by the agency, board, or commission in the discharge of its functions.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(3)(A). Only items “that directly affect procedure and decision-making” are included in this category. Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(3)(B)(i). The FOIA exempts the following types of information from this rule: “[p]ersonnel policies, procedures, and internal policies” and “[s]urveys, polls, and fact-gathering for decision-making.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(3)(B)(ii)–(iii). Additionally, “[s]tatistical data furnished to a state agency shall be posted only after the agency has concluded its final compilation and result.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(3)(B)(iv).
    The fourth type of information that the organization must make available online is “[a]ll documents composing an administrative adjudication decision in a contested matter, except the parts of the decision that are expressly confidential under state or federal law.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(4).
    Finally, all records that the organization determines are or will likely become “the subject of frequent requests” must be provided on the Internet, “regardless of medium or format.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-108(a)(5).

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  • California

    Section 6253(f) of the CPRA allows an agency to post on its website public records and direct a requester seeking to inspect such records to its website in lieu of allowing inspection of public records at its offices. However, if the requester is unable to access the site or download the records, the agency must promptly provide a copy of the public records to the requester upon request. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(f).

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  • Delaware

    Not specified.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    The Act requires online dissemination of certain records.  See, e.g., O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a)(46) (requiring the posting of certain economic development records online no later than five business days after state funds are committed).  In addition, the Act permits agencies, in lieu of providing separate printouts or copies of records or data, to provide access through a website accessible to the public.  But “if an agency receives a request for data fields, an agency shall not refuse to provide the responsive data on the grounds that the data is available in whole or in its constituent parts through a website if the requester seeks the data in the electronic format in which it is kept.”  § 50-18-71(h).  In addition, “if an agency contracts with a private vendor to collect or maintain public records, the agency shall ensure that the arrangement does not limit public access to those records and that the vendor does not impede public record access and method of delivery.”  Id.

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  • Hawaii

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue

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  • Idaho

    There is no provision in the Act or relevant case law relating to online dissemination.

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  • Illinois

    A public body that maintains a website must post the following information on its website: “(a) A brief description of itself, which will include, but not be limited to, a short summary of its purpose, a block diagram giving its functional subdivisions, the total amount of its operating budget, the number and location of all of its separate offices, the approximate number of full and part-time employees, and the identification and membership of any board, commission, committee, or council which operates in an advisory capacity relative to the operation of the public body, or which exercises control over its policies or procedures, or to which the public body is required to report and be answerable for its operations; and

    (b) A brief description of the methods whereby the public may request information and public records, a directory designating the Freedom of Information officer or officers, the address where requests for public records should be directed, and any fees allowable under Section 6 of this Act.”  5 ILCS 140/4.

    Section 8.5 of the Act allows a public body to post records online, and direct a requester to the online posting.  If the requester cannot reasonably access the online record, the public body must then provide paper copies.  5 ILCS 140/8.5

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  • Indiana

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • Kansas

    An agency does not have to disclose, in response to an open records request, certain records as long as those records are “searchable” on the public agency’s website.  K.S.A. 45-221(a)(51) and (52).

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  • Kentucky

    Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.874(6) provides:

    Online access to public records in electronic form, as provided under this section, may be provided and made available at the discretion of the public agency. If a party wishes to access public records by electronic means and the public agency agrees to provide online access, a public agency may require that the party enter into a contract, license, or other agreement with the agency, and may charge fees for these agreements.…

    However, in Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Courier-Journal, Franklin Circuit Court No. 08-CI-863 (May 15, 2009), the court held that nothing in Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.874(6) “serves to relieve the obligations of the agency under Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.874(2). Thus, although online access may be provided, the agency still must comply with requests for records in hard copy or electronic format.” Id. at 5.

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  • Louisiana

    No specific provision.

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  • Maine

    The Act does not require that public records be made available on-line. Any public entity that has a publicly accessible site on the internet associated with it must develop a privacy policy and post notice of it on its website.  14-A M.R.S.A. § 541.

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  • Maryland

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue; some agencies do provide access to certain records via the applicable agency's public website.

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  • Michigan

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Montana

    No statutory or case law on this issue.

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  • Nebraska

    Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-712(3)(b) acknowledges that electronic records can be disseminated online but provides no other guidance.

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  • Nevada

    There are no restrictions placed on the subsequent use of the public records by the NPRA.

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  • New Hampshire

    The Statute does not address this issue.

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  • New Jersey

    N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(d) provides:

    1. A custodian shall permit access to a government record and provide a copy thereof in the medium requested if the public agency maintains the record in that medium.  If the public agency does not maintain the record in the medium requested, the custodian shall either convert the record to the medium requested or provide a copy in some other meaningful medium.  If a request is for a record: (1) in a medium not routinely used by the agency; (2) not routinely developed or maintained by an agency; or (3) requiring a substantial amount of manipulation or programming of information technology, the agency may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplication, a special charge that shall be reasonable and shall be based on the cost for any extensive use of information technology, or for the labor cost of personnel providing the service, that is actually incurred by the agency or attributable to the agency for the programming, clerical, and supervisory assistance required, or both.
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  • New Mexico

    A county or municipality may allow users to access its network system to search and retrieve geographic information from a computer database and may charge reasonable fees for such online dissemination.  NMSA 1978 § 14-3-18(G) (2005).  It is unclear whether this provision allows governmental entities to charge for other information distributed via websites; however, many counties and municipalities in New Mexico maintain websites containing electronic records in various forms.

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  • North Carolina

    A public agency or custodian may satisfy the obligation to permit inspection and copying of public records by making the records available online in a format that allows a person to view the record and print or save it. G.S. § 132-6(a1).

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  • North Dakota

    The open records statute does not address online dissemination.

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  • Ohio

    The Public Records Act does not require a public office to post public records online on the office's website. State ex rel. Patton v. Rhodes, 129 Ohio St.3d 182, 950 N.E.2d 965, 2011-Ohio-3093.

    The statute authorizes a public office to choose "to provide some or all of its public records on a web site that is fully accessible to and searchable by members of the public at all times." Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(b)(7)(c)(ii).

    A related statute bars a public office from including individual social security numbers on public records that the office posts on its website. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.45(B).

    The same statute allows a public office to comply with a request by any individual to redact that individual's "personal information" from any public record on the office's website. Personal information is an individual's social security number, tax identification number, financial account number, and medical account number. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.45(A), (C).

    In addition to redacting personal information, a public office may redact a law enforcement officer's address from a record posted on the office's website. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.45(D).

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  • Oklahoma

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • Oregon

    ORS 192.318 (formerly ORS 192.430) requires a custodian of public records to provide “proper and reasonable opportunities for inspection and examination of the records in the office of the custodian” during usual business hours to persons seeking access to public records, and ORS 192.324 (1) (formerly ORS 192.440(1) requires “a reasonable opportunity to inspect or copy” public records.

    In 2009, the Oregon Legislature established the Oregon Transparency Website, which provides for the proactive disclosure of certain information by state agencies and education service districts. See ORS 276A.250-262. The Oregon Transparency Website is discussed in more detail below.

    Separately, in 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed SB 481, which creates the Chief Data Officer with the obligation to, inter alia, establish a central web portal for disclosable information using an open data standard. See ORS 276A.350 to 276A.374. The law specifically provides that it does not supersede any obligations imposed under the Public Records Law. ORS 276A.371.

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  • Rhode Island

    Not directly addressed.

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  • South Carolina

    Many public bodies are posting records on line for public access without a request or a charge. Anderson County initiated a program to post all of its financial transactions for public inspection.

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  • South Dakota

    State government has a home page and provides access to a variety of information via the internet. Contracts, in particular, may be made accessible to the public via internet. SDCL §1-27-4.2.

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  • Tennessee

    Some government agencies have websites with some public records available from those sites.

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  • Texas

    Section 552.272 provides for the inspection of electronic records when copies are not requested. Subsection (d) states that “if information is created or kept in an electronic form, a governmental body is encouraged to explore options to separate out confidential information and to make public information available to the public through electronic access through a computer network or by other means.” Generally, a charge may not be imposed for access to online information unless complying with a request will require programming or manipulation of data. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.272(a).

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  • Utah

    The availability of online transmission of records varies between government entities. The requester should inquire with the government entity that maintains the record to determine if online dissemination is available. In 2005, GRAMA was amended to allow a government entity to provide access to an electronic record in lieu of providing access to its paper equivalent. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(12) (2005) (current version at id. § 63G–2–201(13)).

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  • Vermont

    Not specified.

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  • Virginia

    If nonexempt records are maintained in an electronic database, the public body shall produce them in any tangible medium identified by the requester, including posting the records on a website or delivering them through email. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704.G.

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  • Washington

    The PRA provides that an agency may respond to a record request by providing a link to the requested record on the agency’s website (unless the requester lacks internet access, in which case the agency must provide a hard copy). RCW 42.56.520.

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  • West Virginia

    When requested records are transferred to FOIA requesters by e-mail or are downloaded by requesters from a government website, no fees should be assessed as the government body would have incurred no “actual cost of reproduction.”

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  • Wyoming

    The convicted sex offender registry, in which offenders are entered if the likelihood of a re-offense is high, must be accessible online. Wyo. Stat. § 7-19-303(c)(iii) (1977) (current through 2005 legislative session). The statute also lists the type of information about the offender which is included in the database.

    Also, state contracts are generally available on the Department of Information and Administration website.

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