Jul 162010
 

The Associated Press reports:

Wisconsin government employees can safely send personal e-mail messages on their work computers without worrying that they will have to make them public, under a ruling Friday by the state Supreme Court.

The court ruled that just because a public employee uses a work computer to send an e-mail, it doesn’t automatically make that message subject to the state open records law.

The court explained its reasoning:

Several other states have already addressed this issue. Each has concluded that the contents of government employees’ personal e-mails are not information about the affairs of government and are therefore not open to the public under their respective open records acts. We know of no state that has reached the conclusion that the contents of such personal e-mails should be released to members of the public.

For the reasons set forth, we too now conclude that while government business is to be kept open, the contents of employees’ personal e-mails are not a part of government business. Personal e-mails are therefore not always records within the meaning of Wis. Stat. § 19.32(2) simply because they are sent and received on government e-mail and computer systems.

A copy of the opinion in Schill v. Wisconsin Rapids School District can be found here (pdf).

Prior coverage from earlier today:
The Associated Press reports:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to rule Friday in a case that could subject private e-mails sent by public employees to the state’s open records law.

The case involves a request from a citizen for private e-mails sent by five teachers on their work computers in the Wisconsin Rapids School District.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

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