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Wisconsin court affirms right to public data electronically

June 5, 2019

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Wisconsin Appeals Court on Wednesday affirmed the public’s right to receive public records in electronic format.

The court upheld a lower-court decision in favor of Bill Lueders, the president of Wisconsin’s Freedom of Information Council, who sought emails that a state representative received in response to proposed changes to the state’s water laws in 2016.

Rep. Scott Krug provided Lueders paper copies for inspection and copying. Lueders clarified he wanted the records electronically because they contain more information than paper records, including metadata from the emails.

Krug argued that he had satisfied Lueders’ request by providing paper copies, but the Appeals Court sided with Lueders. Their ruling called it “undisputed” that the electronic copies and emails contained information not in the paper printouts.

Lueders called the decision a “major win” for public access that establishes “electronic records contain additional information.”

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