Unlocking the Laws Governing Access to New York Public Records

The Freedom of Information Act (“FOIL”), Article 6 (sections 84 to 90) of the New York State Public Servants Act, establishes the public's right to access records maintained by government agencies, with certain exceptions. As a citizen of New York, you have the legal right to inspect public records through the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIL). This is outlined in sections 84 through 90 of the New York Public Servants Act (N. Y.), which contains no limitations on the number of members of the public who can request records.

Sections 175.20 and 175.25 address the manipulation of public records in the second and first grades. Such manipulation is considered a class A misdemeanor or a class D misdemeanor, and individuals can be prosecuted and sentenced accordingly for these crimes. The New York State Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) and the Open Meetings Act govern the management of open records in New York State. Any conflict between the laws governing public access to records is interpreted in favor of the widest possible availability of public records.

There is no standard procedure for requesting records from New York agencies, as each agency has its own procedures for processing requests for records. However, court records held by state agencies become public records, and other laws allow for the release of court records. FOIL appeals in New York are managed by an independent oversight board known as the Open Government Committee. Section 80 requires outgoing public officials to hand over their official records to their successors in office and outlines appropriate legal action if this transfer is not completed.

The Freedom of Information Act (Article 6, sections 84 to 90) outlines the public's rights to access public records. The New York State Archives is part of the Office of Cultural Education, an office of the New York State Department of Education. New York State has also published a social media policy that aims to help the state government communicate effectively with the public on social media. The New York State Archives offers a webinar on managing social media records, which specifically discusses the retention and preservation of social media records.

In addition to FOIL and the Open Meetings Act, there are three other laws that govern access to public records in New York: that of New York City, the rest of the state, and the New York Police. The Internet Security and Privacy Act (Article II, Section 20) requires New York state entities, individuals, and businesses that own or license computer data that includes private information to disclose any data breach to affected New York residents (state entities must also notify non-residents) and report it to the state Attorney General, the Office of Information Technology Services and the Department of State. If you receive a denial right now (even if the agency doesn't respond), you can file a lawsuit in the New York State court to enforce your request. The section of the New York Local Government Records Retention and Disposition Program (LGS) details situations in which records can or should be kept beyond their retention period.

If an agency is relying on an exemption, you can ask them to disclose only non-exempt parts of a registry and delete or rewrite exempt parts. An agency is defined as any department, board, office, division, commission, committee, public authority, public corporation, council, office, or other governmental entity.

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Rory Rabinovich
Rory Rabinovich

Hardcore beer fanatic. Avid zombie lover. Certified zombie aficionado. Infuriatingly humble social media scholar. Passionate pop culture buff.

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