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Illinois Public Record Laws

Website & Social Media Archiving for Illinois State Agencies

Do you represent a Illinois Government Agency and wondering how you should archive all your web and social media content? Are you trying to determine what you need to do both from a legal and a technical point of view? Here’s a guide to the different Laws and processes you should follow.

What Laws govern Records Management in Illinois?

There are three varying open records laws governing website and social media records within the state of Illinois; the Freedom of Information Act 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. , the State Records Act (5 ILCS 160/1 et seq.) and the Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205/1 et seq.)

Do Illinois State Records Laws include Website and Social Media Content?

The FOIA definition of “Public records” means all “Records … electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics…

E-mail is expressly covered within Section 7 of the Act. State and Local Records Acts have duplicative definitions of records to include “all books, papers, digitized electronic material, maps, photographs, databases, or other official documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics…..”.

All acts are thereby applicable to website and social media communications by the relevant agencies.

What agencies are subject to these laws?

The definition of “Public body” in both the FOIA Act and the Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/1.02) are almost identical, with the FOIA definition slightly broader in scope, including all legislative, executive, administrative, or advisory bodies of the State.

Within the State Records Act “Agency” means “all parts, boards, and commissions of the executive branch of the State government…and all departments established by the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois”. “Agency” within the Local Records Act expands to any court, and all parts, boards, departments, bureaus and commissions of any county, municipal corporation or political subdivision.

What is my agency required to do in line with these regulations?

Any information that was originally a (hardcopy) record remains a public record when produced, maintained or converted to any digital format and so must be retained for any period required by law (The Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205)). Agencies must preserve and present any records kept in digital formats that are needed to comply with the FOIA (5 ILCS 140/).

In which form do I need to archive my records?

When retaining long-term records in digital format, user copies should be made and the “original” digital information stored off-site in a controlled environment.

The Local Records Act states that digital records must be “retained in a trustworthy manner so that the records, and the information contained in the records, are accessible and usable for subsequent reference at all times while the information must be retained.”

The Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205) also allows agencies to reproduce existing public records in a digitalised electronic format; electronic records must be reproduced on a “durable medium that accurately and legibly reproduces the original record in all details….that does not permit additions, deletions, or changes to the original document images.”

Can I use a printout of my website as an official record?

Websites must be retained in their original format (HTML, CSS, PDF etc). American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO v. County of Cook, 136 Ill. 2d 334, 345-47 (1990) found that when a requesting party sought a copy of computerized records, the agency could not satisfy the request by producing a mere printout of the records.

How can PageFreezer help our agency?

PageFreezer has been working on our Archiving technology and processes since 2006 – We know how to properly archive Web Sites, Blogs and Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. Just ask any of our over 500 clients including US Cities, Counties and other Government Agencies as well as Multinationals, Financial Service Firms, Healthcare Providers …

Our clients know our technology is secure, reliable and authenticated. More importantly they appreciate the ease-of-use.

That’s why our complex technology is simple to use – The archiving is automatic and retrieval is a matter of signing in, going to the date you want, and browsing your site just like you did when the content was just published.

If you have questions about any of this or about how to actually implement effective Online Public Records management start a free trial, schedule a demo or contact us directly.


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lllinois Freedom of Information ActPublic Access to Electronic Records GuidelinesSafeguarding Public RecordsGeneral NARA Social Media Guidelines for Federal Bodies

Additional Resources:

Open Government GuideGuide to the Illinois FOIAGuidelines for Electronic Records

News/ Articles

FOIA Bill v. Government Watchdogs in Corrupt Illinois