Georgia’s Open Records Act allows state agencies to decide whether to release exempt records

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January 29, 2018 — The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press and three media organizations submitted a friend-of-the court brief to the Georgia Supreme Court urging it to reverse a decision by the Court of Appeals that would make it mandatory for state agencies to withhold any record that falls under an exemption to the Georgia Open Records Act from the public. 

The Georgia Press Association, Georgia First Amendment Foundation and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also signed on to the brief.

The brief in the case of Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and Campaign for Accountability v. Consumer Credit Research Foundation argues that while some of the Act’s 50 exemptions prohibit state agencies from disclosing records, other exemptions allow for the state to waive them and release records at their discretion.

“Exemptions to public records laws should not be used to broadly shield entire categories of information from public view.”

“Exemptions to public records laws should not be used to broadly shield entire categories of information from public view,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Bruce Brown Reporter Committee

Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.  rcfp photo

“The express purpose of these laws is to allow the press and public to access information about government activities. State agencies often release records, in part or in full, that they have an option to withhold under an exemption in an effort to be transparent with those they serve. Mandating that records be kept private strips agencies of this decision-making power and hinders the public’s ability to hold government accountable.”

To read the entire Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press statement link HERE.

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