Frank LoMonte Comments on Private Companies Hiding Public Information
Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is quoted in “Kansas Allows Private Companies to Hide Public Information” published on kansaspublicradio.org on Nov. 18.
Across the country, journalists are struggling to get public documents that involve private companies. Places like Kansas are even letting corporations black out public records. And that makes it more difficult to scrutinize government actions.
LoMonte fears that governments increasingly let businesses, rather than their own laws, decide what the public can or cannot see.
“This is not a Kansas problem. It’s not an Oregon problem,” he said. “It’s an everywhere problem.”
According to the article, LoMonte said that “Governments regularly shirk transparency laws and point to the intellectual property rights of private vendors as the reason. And in the case of Kansas, it effectively outsources the redaction process to private companies that don’t work for the public, that don’t have any legal obligation to follow open records law and that can’t be hauled before a judge for breaking it.”
“That’s a really dangerous business,” LoMonte said. “When you actually hand the document over and you invite people to use the black Magic Marker, they have every incentive to overuse it.”