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New York State Public Record Laws

Open Records in New York State

Open Records in New York State

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

How New York Defines a Public Record

The New York State Freedom of Information Law states that:

The people’s right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality. The legislature therefore declares that government is the public’s business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government in accordance with the provisions of this article.

It defines “record” as:

‘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.

Social Media Guidance Documents

The New York State Archives offers a webinar on the management of social media records, which specifically discusses the retention and preservation of social media records.

New York State has also released a social media policy that is aimed at helping state government communicate effectively with the public on social media. The policy states that:

“You agree that any information you post on a New York State social media site is irrevocably, permanently licensed to New York State and may be treated by the State as public information subject to disclosure to third parties. If a copyright is indicated on a video, photo, graphic or other material, permission to copy the material must be obtained from the original source of the material before posting.”