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Friday, August 24, 2007

Non-business email messages are not public records in Florida

At least for the State of Florida.

Follow the jump for an interesting opinion on the question of whether non-business email constitutes a public record.

The opinion Makes the following assertions:

..."official business communicated by e-mail transmissions is a matter of public record." In re: Amendments to Rule of Judicial Administration 2.051 -- Public Access to Judicial Records, 651 So. 2d 1185 (Fla. 1995). However, the court has also recognized that e-mail messages may include transmissions that are not official business and which, consequently, are not public records." id. at 1187. Thus, the Supreme Court has already given us some guidance in this area. Non-business e-mail messages are not public records and need not be retained.


Experience in our office indicates that many e-mail messages consist of one or two lines dashed off electronically because, at any given time, it may be the most expedient means of communicating a simple message: "your meeting is at 2:00, don't be late"; "remember to order a new copier cartridge this afternoon"; "please let me know when you will have the project finished." These communications are the electronic equivalent of communications that under different circumstances would take place verbally -- either by telephone or directly.

It seems that there is a prevailing legal mantra, "save everything". Including every joke of the day, every email from social networking sites, every chain letter, every everything.

I'd like to suggest that it is possible to manage your archive with a little less extreme-ness. There are definitely items that can be safely removed: do you really need the 65,000 low toner notices?

I think it is time to really discuss what constitutes a business email. What are your thoughts?

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