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In Mississippi, Gov't Text Messages Are Officially Public Records

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the scum-floats-for-a-reason dept.

Government 33

New submitter Chris Elkins (3620071) writes "Text messages [by public officials about government business] are now officially considered public records. An investigative reporter fought for access to what he believed were public records. He took his fight to the state and won. Mississippi open government and transparency advocates view this unanimous commission opinion as precedent-setting for all government bodies and public officials in the state."

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Awesome win for the Democrats... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783497)

over the Republicans! Those people constantly send racist text messages back and forth, like most old white people, so it's great to see that they're either going to have to stop or face time in prison. This is a huge fucking win.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (5, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 5 months ago | (#46783563)

Anthony Weiner would like to have a word with you. I also think he has some pictures you might find interesting.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783633)

Tony Baloney would like to have a word with you. I also think he has some pictures you might find interesting.

FTFY

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46783607)

I take it you're unaware that the Mayor of Tupelo (who was trying to conceal his text messages from the press) is a Democrat?

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46784097)

did you just allow an AC to bait you?
Yes, yes you did.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 5 months ago | (#46784223)

No. He's the original AC. He's been baiting himself for years!

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (3, Funny)

J053 (673094) | about 5 months ago | (#46784353)

He's a master baiter!

Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the fish, and please tip your waitress...

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (1)

IMightB (533307) | about 5 months ago | (#46785049)

Go Away! I'm Baiting!

Ow! My balls!

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (2)

ShaunC (203807) | about 5 months ago | (#46784163)

Then there's Greg Davis, former (R) Mayor of Southaven, who got caught racking up thousands of taxpayer dollars to take his secret boyfriend on trips and buy dildos in Canada. You can't make this shit up.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (1)

Noishkel (3464121) | about 5 months ago | (#46784455)

Heh! Yeah, I remember that... Always wondered why he chose to mail order from Canada. Are Canadian dildos the best dildos?

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 5 months ago | (#46784669)

Mail order? If I remember correctly, he went up to Canada ostensibly on business, and used his city credit card at the dildo store; that particular trip was what broke the scandal wide open. D'oh! If he'd just paid cash...

As for the quality of Canadian dildos, I have no idea.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783711)

Awesome win for the Democrats over the Republicans! Those people constantly send racist text messages back and forth, like most old white people, so it's great to see that they're either going to have to stop or face time in prison. This is a huge fucking win.

You would have a cell right next to them with the racism and bigotry you spew.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783713)

old white people

Like this [cbslocal.com] guy. Fortunately they caught [amren.com] the perpetrator.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (1)

baKanale (830108) | about 5 months ago | (#46784237)

Like that bastard Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York! He avoids email entirely [nydailynews.com] in favor of phone conversations or Blackberry pin-to-pin messages, so there's no record of anything that goes on. Wait, no, he's a Democrat. Thank God, then, it must be perfectly OK.

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (1)

Noishkel (3464121) | about 5 months ago | (#46784477)

Well better a bunch of GOP racist texting a-holes than left wing senators who smuggle in rocket launchers and heavy machine guns.

I'd just as soon have neither, but if I gotta chose the worse of the two...

Re:Awesome win for the Democrats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46790929)

> left wing senators who smuggle in rocket launchers

You got that backward. It is the right wing that loves violence and is flooding the streets with weapons.

Mississippi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783499)

How do we keep all the niggers out of our white schools?

Blame the Mexicans.

Segregation and cousin fucking today. Segregation and cousin fucking forever!!!

Burners (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783559)

In other news, sales of low-end prepaid phones in MS strangely doubled in recent days.

The political class is adept [nationalreview.com] at skirting [nationalreview.com] these laws and going unpunished.

This won't really help anything. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783599)

The Government communicates with the Illuminati through dental implants.

Thank God for Mississippi (2)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 5 months ago | (#46783651)

old 49-states quote. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Thank God for Mississippi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46784525)

several states have broad-reaching open and/or public records laws... mississippi just gets the headlines in this instance due to the legal battle.

I find myself in agreement with the state of MS. (3, Interesting)

mmell (832646) | about 5 months ago | (#46783811)

At least, in this narrow instance. Elected (and appointed) government personnel are ostensibly held to a higher standard of accountability and transparency than other citizens. I am somewhat less certain about applying this to government employees (those hired for government jobs through civil hiring procedures), although there too I believe some higher standard should be held to apply, with said employees being notified in writing of the nature of that higher standard.

The only viable alternative would be to explicitly require that government personnel use only government supplied mechanisms during performance of their appointed duties. If a government official is discussing government business, We The People have a right to know everything (unclassified) which is said by our government officials regarding the conduct of our government's business. Either use government supplied resources (neatly avoiding privacy issues) or get used to the fact that any public inquiry can reasonably be expected to expose more than public information to public scrutiny.

Re:I find myself in agreement with the state of MS (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46784103)

If the work is done for the agency, then it's public record.
This is why I don't use my personal devices for any government business.

If you have nothing to hide what's the harm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783855)

Said no politician ever.

End result (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46783863)

The end result of this will be: The state decides it's too expensive to track and just disables text messaging on all their service plans.

jews strike again! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46783963)

time to strike back with a final solution!

Records retention schedules a big deal in this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46784091)

Public officials and government bodies in Mississippi have been breaking the law for a long time. Public records have retention schedules and archiving requirements, but these officials haven't been retaining and archiving text messages, which are public records. They don't currently have the technology or processes in place to handle this nor have they budgeted funds for this. They should have taken the law more seriously and adapted to open government sooner because now they have to scramble to make this change and pay for it.

Either way, this is a big deal. If Mississippi can make this progress, all states can! This is a win for Open Government!

What tech exists for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46784747)

What technology exists to capture, archive, and retain text messages? How will local governments comply with this?

Re:What tech exists for this? (2)

Teun (17872) | about 5 months ago | (#46784927)

I hardly ever text but I do know the texts stay in memory and there are back up programs to transfer them to a PC.

So you simply order users of phones under the scheme to once a week mail the backup to a central database.

Also via the billing info it would be reasonably easy to see if someone has deleted messages.
Put some hefty penalties on non-compliance and you don't even need to call the NSA (or Snowden who might be less bureaucratic) for a copy.

Not legally binding (3, Informative)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | about 5 months ago | (#46785463)

It's worth noting that this is an opinion by the Mississippi Ethics Commission [state.ms.us] , and as such, while suggestive, is "advisory" and not legally binding.

The main point of soliciting an opinion from the Ethics Commission is that a "public official" who acts upon such an advisory opinion is not subject to civil or criminal liability as long as the official "follows the direction of such opinion and acts in accordance therewith unless a court of competent jurisdiction, after a full hearing, shall judicially declare that such opinion is manifestly wrong and without any substantial support." (Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, section 25-4-17(i)(i) [state.ms.us] )

In other States its unofficial.... (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 5 months ago | (#46785665)

.... what Mississippi said.

I well and truly can't see why they would not be. (1)

punapea (1184707) | about 5 months ago | (#46786207)

When the whole phone tapping scandal kicked off royally, was I the only one thinking "Shouldn't they be discussing our best interests anyway? And if they are then what's the fuss about"? As someone said before me, government officials should be more transparent if anything -phone records, taxes they pay, property they own -BRING IT ON.

Sounds like a decent place to live (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46786697)

In that they keep their elected officials & such on that kind of leash. Correct me if I am wrong if ANY of you reading think that it's a bad thing to do. They are, after all, on taxpayer time and equipment + their payrolls we pay for.

APK

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