Metadata Subject to Disclosure Pursuant Washington’s Public Records Act
O’Neill v. City of Shoreline, 2010 WL 3911347 (Wash. Oct. 7, 2010)
Source: Electronic Discovery Law, K&L, Gates, October 15, 2010
On September 14, 2006, Diane Hettick, a private citizen, sent an email to Lisa Thwing, a private citizen, containing criticism of the Shoreline City Council (“the Council”). Thwing forwarded that email to herself and then to Shoreline Deputy Mayor Maggie Fimia and others using the blind carbon copy function. … As outlined in the dissent to this case, the email to Fimia was unsolicited and was received “at home on her personal computer.” At a public meeting of the Council, Fimia referred to the email and erroneously identified Beth O’Neill as the author. … O’Neill requested the attendant metadata.
… O’Neill filed suit alleging a violation of the Public Records Act. The trial court found in favor of the City. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that metadata was subject to disclosure and, more specifically, that the metadata associated with Thwing’s original email to Fimia was subject to disclosure and reversed the trial court. Upon the City’s and Fimia’s appeal, the case went before the Supreme Court.
… Noting this was a case of first impression in Washington, the court referenced a recent opinion from the Arizona Supreme Court, the only other court to address this question, and its holding that metadata was subject to disclosure. Turning to the state of the law in Washington, the court held that metadata was subject to disclosure pursuant to the PRA …
For full text of the article and a link to the court opinion, click here.
- State Supreme Court: E-mail metadata is public record (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- E-mail metadata considered public record (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- State high court: E-mail metadata is public record (thenewstribune.com)
- Wash. high court: E-mail metadata is public record (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Civil Disagreement: E-mails to public officials (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Tags: Appellate court, Arizona Supreme Court, Computer, Deputy Major, Deputy mayor, email, Fimia, government, Hettick, Law, metadata, ONeill, PRA, Public Records, Public Records Act, Shoreline City Council, Thwing, Transparency, United States, Washington Supreme Court
Dr. Lea Shanley is the founder and former co-Chair of the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, a vibrant community of 200 federal employees from more than 35 agencies. She is also a co-founding member of the Citizen Science Association. Dr. Shanley recently served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow at NASA, where she helped to foster a culture of open innovation. Prior to this, she founded and directed the Commons Lab at the Wilson Center, served in the US Senate as a Congressional Science Fellow, and worked with local and tribal communities to develop GIS-based decision support systems for city planning, natural resource management, coastal management, and disaster response through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog of links to relevant news, events, and reports, provided for educational purposes only. The opinions and views contained therein are those only of the authors of the original articles. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the editor of this blog or or associated organizations.
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