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New York State Public Record Laws

Website & Social Media Archiving for New York State Agencies

Do you represent a New York 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 New York?

New York State Freedom of Information Law and Open Meetings Law govern open records management in the State of New York. Any conflicts among laws governing public access to records shall be construed in favour of the widest possible availability of public records.

Do New York State Records Laws include Website and Social Media content?

NARA state that it 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.

In the state of New York, “Record” means any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever including, but not limited to, reports, statements, examinations, memoranda, opinions, folders, files, books, manuals, pamphlets, forms, papers, designs, drawings, maps, photos, letters, microfilms, computer tapes or discs, rules, regulations or codes.(FOIL§86(4))

This webinar by the New York State Archives explains how to capture government social media content effectively as a record. You’ll learn how to assess social media risks, develop a social media plan, write a social media policy and preserve reliable digital records.

What agencies are subject to these laws?

Every New York State or municipal department, board, bureau, division, commission, committee, public authority, public corporation, council, office or other governmental entity performing a governmental function(“agency”) is subject to these standards, with different provisions for the State Legislature and courts. Private corporations or companies are not subject to the Freedom of Information Law unless business is in conjunction with “agency” related functions. (FOIL §86(3))

Transparency and open government is naturally in conjunction with efficient and coherent records management. Therefore, all applicable agencies must retain, preserve and potentially reproduce all web and social media content by way of a secure and efficient records management system, and only if disclosure of records would be damaging to an individual or preclude a government agency from carrying out its duties, may some aspects or records be withheld. (FOIL §87(2)).

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

Agency personnel should retain, record and make available information and records required by the Freedom of Information Law, as well as records otherwise available by law.

An agency should be responsible for insuring compliance with the regulations and has a large series of responsibilities, including and shall designate one or more persons as records access officer, upon request for a records, certify that a record is a true copy and each agency shall maintain a current list of all records in its possession, whether or not records are available pursuant to Public Officers Law §87(2).

In which form do I need to archive my records?
Case Study: National Day Laborer Organizing Network v. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency [2011].

In February 2011, in National Day Laborer Organizing Network v. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, a federal district New York court held that “it is well accepted, if not indisputable, that meta data is generally considered to be an integral part of an electronic record”. The district court held that the government must provide the metadata to requesters because they had requested the documents in “native format”, which the court determined included the metadata.

The court also found that metadata is a fundamental part of the records, should be preserved and included in open records preservation and requests requested and is in conjunction with the current trend in e-discovery cases of the importance and relevance of metadata and producing records in their native format.

How can we transfer website archives made with PageFreezer to the New York State 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 New York State or Agency Digital Archives.

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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Freedom of Information Law
Open Meetings Law

Additional Resources:

FOIL §86(3)
FOIL Advisory Opinion Index
FOIL §87(2)