In this era of technological advancements, anything can be possible, including the innovation of more convenient and accessible digital communication channels, such as e-mails and Whatsapp chats. Although the creation of new communication platforms helps people communicate easily, providing further progression for humanity, it has shone light to the ambiguity of existing public records archiving laws, which are implemented to give citizens access to government documents and communication records of public employees.
Accordingly, the vagueness of the present records retention rules has reflected misconceptions about such policies. Due to this, an increasing number of state governments are implementing new systems or amended records archiving laws to include the storing of electronic communication records of government employees within the public’s interest.
The Freedom of Information Act and most State Open Record Laws allow the public to access federal and state records, including communication records of employees, usually within six months from the date of request. Accordingly, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) 2019 mandate gives government agencies and offices the authority to establish new systems and implement their policies. It would help them capture employees’ electronic records, including text messages, voice calls, and Whatsapp chats, and store them in an accessible format for efficient and proper public records request response.
However, despite the directive given to public agencies to create their public records archiving systems, a few still stumble upon difficulties that arise from myths. An example of a misconception on records archiving is that the government can rely on carrier networks on retaining mobile communications. Although this myth still exists and continues to confuse some government employees, a study has set some clarifications. It has been found that most established carrier networks in the US do not keep message contents; instead, they only keep the messages’ metadata.
To fully understand public records archiving laws, a person must first clear their minds of the confusions created by these policies. Reading more about the right processes and the rules that govern it can help alleviate the misunderstandings concerning specific regulations. This infographic of Telemessage lists some of the common misconceptions on public records archiving.