Colorado’s analog records laws lag behind digital practice

From The Colorado Independent:  DENVER — This lawmaker is exchanging late-night texts with a pot-industry lobbyist. That lawmaker is instant-chatting from his Gmail account with an insurance industry executive. And in New Jersey, a governor’s staffer sends a message to a Port Authority pal asking him to shut down four lanes of traffic and cause an historic and eventually notorious bottleneck.

The thinking behind open records law is that the public should enjoy access to those kinds of communications, because they clearly form part of the record of how our democracy works. But communication in the digital age happens at lightening speed on all variety of platforms. Messages multiply. One brings another. Then more come and bring more until they pile up like grains of sand in the Sahara. Can we really expect officials to keep them all and to deliver them in digestible chunks in a timely way upon request?

Colorado’s open-records laws, passed in the late sixties and early seventies, were some of the first passed on the state level in the nation and, as Colorado Ethics Watch puts it, they are “showing their age.”

“They haven’t kept pace with the times,” reads a recent reportfrom Ethics Watch. “They suffer from pre-digital age thinking to the detriment of citizens and government officials alike.”

Visit The Colorado Independent for more.

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