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Texas Public Record Laws

Website & Social Media Archiving for Texas State Agencies

Do you represent a Texas 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 Texas State?

Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 6252-17a, Public Information Act.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the federal equivalent of the freedom of information law in Texas, the Public Information Act (PIA). However people often will use the federal name when they mean to refer to the state law.

Do Texas State Records Laws include Website and Social Media content?

Information posted on social networking websites is open to the public by the very nature of it being available for all of the public to see.

Any information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for a governmental body is subject to the Public Information Act. Section 552.002.

As technological capabilities expand, so does the broad application of the PIA and so the format (paper, electronic) of the record does not affect its status as a public record.

Yet social media sites could more accurately be defined as semi-private because only a select audience can view the information a user posts.Information created by government employees that touches on or concerns the transaction of official business, even if communicated via social , may be subject to the PIA e.g. Twitter posts between state agency commissioners regarding their positions on upcoming commission votes.

Other exemplary online exchanges becoming public information include a public school teacher posting a negative blog about a fellow teacher or Twitter posts between state agency commissioners regarding their positions on upcoming commission posts or discussing public spending.

If a public entity did create or utilize such content in the discourse of government business, that content could be public information which would have to be disclosed upon request. (§ 552.008(b); must disclose confidential information to a legislative member if the request is made for a legislative purpose).

What agencies are subject to these laws?

Subject to Texas’ PIA , the term “governmental body” includes all Texas public entities at state and local levels, but does not include the judiciary. Agencies that utilise public funds in their functions and operations may be considered governmental bodies. The PIA does not apply, however, to private bodies when they provide goods or services under a contract with a governmental bodies.

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

Texas law requires state agencies and local governments to maintain, store and eventually destroy government data and records in strict accordance with the records retention acts and appropriate records retention schedule.

These provisions do not expressly apply to paper records – governmental agencies must generate, transmit, and store electronic records also. (However, the PIA only governs information already in existence and need not create a new record upon demand).

Texas law requires state agencies and local governments to maintain government data in accordance with the records retention acts.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) establishes the general records retention schedules, whilst governments set their own schedules provided they conform with the TSLAC‘s minimum requirements. (There currently no TSLAC established policy for the preservation or destruction of blogs, comments, instant messages, and tweets, it appears that the retention time would strongly correlate to that of e-mails and would be content-based; TSLAC, Local Schedule GR (3rd Edition)).

The Public Information Act, the Local Government Records Act, and the Penal Code all prohibit the destruction of government records.

In which form do I need to archive my records?

If public information exists in an electronic medium, the requestor may request a copy either on paper or in an electronic medium. A body must provide a copy in the requested medium if it has the technological ability to produce a copy of the information in the requested medium. § 552.228(b)

A governmental body does not fulfill its duty under the PIA by simply referring a requesting party to the governmental body‘s website to obtain the requested public information. (Tex. Att‘y Gen. ORD-682 (2005)).

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

The Public Information Act states that if the information is available in an electronic or magnetic medium, the county must comply with a request for information in those formats if it has the technological ability to do so.

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

PageFreezer exports all data on request – in compliance with Sec. 552.004  Texas PIA – in the original file format including the required metadata. This data set can be transferred by FTP or other by means to the Texas State 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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Texas Open Government Public Information
– Section 552.023. Public Information Act

NARA Social Media Guidelines for Federal Bodies
NARA bulletins provide fundamental guidance to Federal agencies to determine the most appropriate ways to incorporate recordkeeping requirements into their business processes in compliance with the Federal Records Act.

Open Government Guidelines
These guidelines comprehensively outline open government law and practices in the United State to fully inform citizens of their federal and state rights of access to information.

Additional Resources:

Houston Social Media Records
– This Executive Order provides policies, standards, and procedures for the use of social media sites, as all official City presences on social media sites or services are considered extensions of the City’s information networks and are governed by the responsibilities set forth in this and related policies and procedures.

Austin SM Records
Belton SM Policy
Arlington SM Policy


City of Garland v. Dallas Morning News; The Texas Supreme Court held that a document labelled “draft” is public information if, in connection with the transaction of official business, it is collected, assembled or maintained by or for a governmental body.

News/ Articles

Texas Bills target access to information
Watchdog for Open Records