Saturday, January 4, 2014

Issues with Data Practices, 25 years later

As many readers of this post know I have "involved" myself at the Minnesota Legislature on issues of privacy, open government, and civil liberties.  This has been since the late seventies.

One of my focuses has been on the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA).  A main focus of the Act is to balance the right to privacy/secrecy and the right to know.  An amazing part of this law is that all data is presumed public, unless so classified not public by the Legislature.  This is why I spent so much at the Legislature.  The Legislature decides rather than the Courts which is the norm in many states.

Well, I ran across a memo (handwritten) which I sent to Senator Gene Merriam in the fall of 1988, explaining to him my observations about MGDPA issues.  They are the following:

"1) Impedimental and costly legal remedies under the Data Practices Act when persons are denied information by a governmental agency.

 2) Lack of leadership and priority given by top administrators to the full implementation and proper enforcement of the Act.

 3) Policy directions by units of government relying heavily on on public attorney's opinions.

 4) Lack of suitable training/orientation for governmental employees about the Act.

 5) Abuses and inconsistencies in fees.

 6) Delay in responding to an individuals request for information.

 7) Lack of on-going evaluation and oversight of state and local agencies.

On the next page are some possible solutions."

That memo was done over a quarter of a century ago, same issues, same problems?  Some solutions were introduced, some failed, others passed.  The "issues" still need to be addressed.

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