Schimel Says He Understands Why Some Lawmakers Proposed Open Records Changes

Websites go down in the middle of the night. Third shift guys end up being sick and coverage needs to be arranged on the spot. Critical documents need to be obtained by the next day from someone who is on vacation in the Philippines. There are plenty of reasons why someone might need to use a personal device to do light amounts of state work. All I'm getting at is that there needs to be clarification as to what's okay and what's not.

You are required to call/e-mail in if you are going to be sick. To do so, you need to use a phone or computer. Most state employees do not have a state-issued phone or computer at home.

Is your personal phone in your pocket when you are on state property? That could be construed as state property. Connected to the public wi-fi at your state office building? That's certainly state property. Car in the state-owned parking lot? That could be considered as state property. They are allowed to inspect your car if it is on state-owned property and they are allowed to do a more thorough search if they decide it is warranted. Many employees park on the street or in public ramps to avoid that very rule.

It says in many state employee handbooks that you should have 0 expectation of privacy on any devices that are even tangentially related to state work.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I was the website guy at the Department of Children and Families (I'm not.) A quick search of the state employee salary database that open records requests give the major papers in the state every year would give you my salary and name just by looking for IT-esque positions at DCF and submitting an open records request for my position description, though it'd be easier to just do an open records request for an organizational chart. From there, it's easy to do a search on other locations (the recall database pops to mind) to get my house address.

All I'm getting at is that Schimel is right that some revisions and clarifications are needed. If there was a clear "state employees private property isn't subject to open records requests unless it is used for state business, and then only the specific state business can be used or disseminated" then I'd have no issue with it. As it stands, though, it'd be easy for someone who had an issue with something I do to find my name, salary, address, and potentially phone number. Place a few calls about state business to that cell phone, make an open records request for the phone records, and it'd be possible to access whatever I've done on that phone.

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