Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Limit on Public Records from UCs?

A limit on public records requests

WhatMatters/CALmatters, 4-16-19

Researchers, like those at UC Santa Cruz, have been hit with a host of public records requests.

Pending legislation would significantly limit the use of California Public Records Act requests to obtain unpublished work by researchers at the University of California and other public universities in the state.

Undark detailed the legislation in an article on Monday, citing reports that the number of public records requests sent to UC soared to 16,921 in 2017, from 3,266 in 2009.

An example: UC Santa Cruz researchers studying lead poisoning on condors had to cull through five years of emails with a request from the California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation for all correspondence containing the word “‘lead’ in combination with other words like ‘condor,’ ‘bullet’ and ‘blood.’”

Undark: “Over the past decade, scholars working on everything from climate liability strategy to the use of biotechnology in animal agriculture, to the safety of abortions performed by nurse practitioners and midwives, have been subjected to public records requests made by groups critical of their work.”

All Democrats on the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted for the measure by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, a Glendale Democrat. The Union of Concerned Scientists and Climate Science Legal Defense Fund support it.

Republicans voted against it, siding with the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and First Amendment Coalition. The bill faces several more hurdles before it reaches Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.


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