Unlocking the Restrictions on New York Public Records

The New York Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) grants the public the right to inspect public records in the state. However, there are certain restrictions on how these records can be used, particularly if they are being requested for commercial or fund-raising purposes. But once obtained, there are no limitations on how they can be used. The New York FOIL has up to five days to respond to a request.

It is important to note that the judiciary is exempt from the FOIL, although court records held by state agencies are considered public records and other laws allow for their release. Additionally, government agencies can charge fees related to duplication, storage, document preparation and labor; these fees cannot be waived. The ease of access to public records varies; some are available online, while others require an application by mail to the specific government office where they were filed. In New Mexico, government agencies have up to 15 days to respond to a request for public records. Public records software solutions can help government agencies manage requests and automate workflows.

If a request is denied, a lawsuit can be filed in the New York State court to enforce it. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is one of the most commonly used terms that guide public records laws between states. The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) guides New Jersey's public records laws and allows agencies to respond to requests for up to seven days. The Data Practices Act has a high level of exemption since it applies only to the executive branch and not the legislative or judicial branches. For more information on FOIL, visit the New York State Open Government Committee website.

To access state judiciary or state legislature records, see Access to government meetings in New York and New York State court records for more information. If you want to request records from New York agencies, contact Mark Longtoe, Assistant Attorney at the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance 40 North Pearl, 16th Floor, Albany, NY 12243 or Records Access Officer at the same address. Public records laws go by many names depending on the state and can be complicated enough to understand without adding a variety of terminology to the mix. The collection of fees related to the processing of requests is allowed in all states under the Public Records Request Act.

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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