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Minnesota Public Record Laws

Website & Social Media Archiving for Minnesota State Agencies

Do you represent a Minnesota State 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 the State of Minnesota?

In the State of Minnesota, the Open Records laws and provisions can be found in Chapter 13 of Minnesota Statutes, in what is know as Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) Minn. Statutes 13.01 et seq. and Open Meetings Law Minn. Statutes Chapter 13D. These chapters govern website and social media records.

The Minnesota Data Practices Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the public records of government bodies at all levels in the state. The Act “establishes a presumption that government data are public and are accessible by the public for both inspection and copying unless there is federal law, a state statute, or a temporary classification of data that provides that certain data are not public.”

Do Minnesota Records Laws include Website and Social Media content?

Yes, they do. NARA state that there is a “[P]ublic expectation that all web content is both permanently valuable and accessible” – and so social media and web records are subject to these standards as well as the relevant metadata being pertinent to these laws.

Within these provisions, legislation refers not to“records” but to “data” and so defines public records as “all data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by any government entity regardless of its physical form, storage media or conditions of use.” Minnesota Statute 13.02.7

The Act makes it clear that the format of the data is not critical to its accessibility, including data in electronic format such as website and social media content; “Photographic, photostatic, microphotographic, and microfilmed records shall be considered as accessible for convenient use regardless of the size of such records.” § 13.03.1.

What agencies are subject to these laws?

All officers and agencies of the state, counties, cities, towns, school districts, municipal subdivisions or corporations, or other public authorities or political entities within the state shall make and preserve all records necessary to a full and accurate knowledge of their official activities. (Minn. Stat. §§ 13.02, subd. 7; 13.05, subd. 6)

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

Your agency website must be retained in electronic format and remain usable, searchable, retrievable and authentic for the length of the designated retention period as established by the agency and/ or form of record in question and content placed on state agency social media should be moderated by an authorized, trained staff member.

The public officer of a relevant agency is responsible for reproducing relevant records by any reproduction method that clearly and accurately reproduces the records. Each public officer may order that their accurate reproduction be substituted for the originals of them.

The chief administrative officer of each public agency shall be responsible for the preservation and care of the agency’s government records made or received pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of public business. It shall be the duty of each agency, and of its chief administrative officer, to carefully protect and preserve government records from deterioration, mutilation, loss, or destruction

In addition, if an agency maintains public data “in a computer storage medium,” a requester may specify a copy of the data in that medium, if the government entity “can reasonably make the copy or have a copy made.” § 13.03, subd. 3(e).

In which form do I need to archive my records?

Web sites must be retained in their original format: HTML, CSS, PDF etc Government records may be produced in the form of computerized records. All government records shall be made on a physical medium of a quality to ensure permanent records.

How can we transfer website archives made with PageFreezer to the Minnesota Digital Archives?

PageFreezer exports all data on request in the original file format including the required metadata. This data set can be transferred by FTP or by other means to the Minnesota State or Agency Digital Archives.

Minnesota has vastly attempted to improve their access to information and have continued to do so. A 2008 study conducted by the Better Government Association ranked Minnesota #15 in the nation for FOI access, with an overall percentage of 57.30%, in comparison with a 2007 study grading state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, Minnesota received 53 points out of 100, a letter grade of “F” and a ranking of 21 out of the 50 states. In 2002, in an FOI study conducted by IRE and BGA, Minnesota’s laws were ranked as the 40th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of “D.”
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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Minnesota High Court and Open Record Laws