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Utah bill would deal deathblow to freedom of information



Utah lawmakers have pushed through a controversial new bill that would undermine government transparency and restrict freedom of information.

The Utah bill, HB477, would prevent government officials' text and other instant messages from being considered public information, charge administrative fees and overhead costs for any requested information, and require the information seekers to "show with a preponderance of evidence the records should be released," reported the Salt Lake Tribune.

The bill, already approved by the House and Senate, also would prohibit disclosure of officials' voice messages or other forms of electronic communication, the Associated Press added.

Jerre Wroble of the Salt Lake City Weekly said the bill, which just needs the governor's signature to go into effect, is "an example of 21st-century tyranny" that would create a "protected" space for officials to conduct all their business without public scrutiny.

The bill was rushed through both legislative chambers in just four days "because they know the public will be outraged by HB 477 if they have enough time to understand it," a Salt Lake City Weekly blog post said.

Questioning what lawmakers have to hide, an editorial in The Spectrum called on the public to protest the bill and ask the governor to veto it.

Detailing exactly which public records will no longer be considered "records," and highlighting how the definition of "protected" records will be expanded, Curt Bentley for the Utah Political Summary writes that when it comes to this bill, the media is not exaggerating its potential to destroy freedom of information. "This is, to borrow a very awkward turn of phrase from our illustrious Vice President, a 'big #%*$&* deal,'” Bentley wrote.


Otras Noticias Relacionadas
» Salt Lake Tribune (Editor’s column: Closing the door on open-records debate, Dusk comes suddenly for Utah’s sunshine law)
» Facebook (Repeal Utah House Bill 477)


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