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AZ Supreme Court says metadata a public record

Records managers will be taking a new look at “Create dates” after the Arizona Supreme Court mandated production of metadata in public records.

The case involved a demoted police officer who wanted access to the metadata to prove notes were backdated.  Up until now, most cases have held that there must be a showing that metadata is necessary before ordering its production.  While this case may be applied narrowly for Arizona public records, it may impact other governmental entities and courts.

“It would be illogical, and contrary to the policy of openness underlying the public records law, to conclude that public entities can withhold information embedded in an electronic document, such as the date of creation, while they would be required to produce the same information if it were written manually on a paper public records,” Justice Scott Bales wrote.

Disclosing metadata shouldn’t be overly burdensome on public entities, Bales wrote.

Hat tip to John Hesse.


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