If I am a state or a company that does business with local governments within the state, will my business records be subject to disclosure under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)? Yeah, maybe. FOIA law clearly states that it is the state policy that everyone has the right to complete and complete information
If I am a state or a company that does business with local governments within the state, will my business records be subject to disclosure under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
FOIA law clearly states that it is the state policy that everyone has the right to complete and complete information about government operations. Government records need to be accessed by citizens so they can better monitor them and make more informed political decisions about them.
Therefore, FOIA is set up to make all government records available to anyone requesting a particular document, unless specifically excluded under the law.
Therefore, the presumption is for openness and places a heavy burden on government agencies to prove that the requested document is excluded from disclosure under the law.
This problem is really confusing when private companies sign contracts to provide services with the government.
Are the business records subject to FOIA?
The law specifically states that records owned by parties contracting to perform government functions on behalf of public institutions directly related to government functions are public records (thus). , Subject to FOIA).
The law aims to combat governments that may circumvent FOIA by privatizing government functions through contractual delegation to private companies.
A possible example is a municipality that has a contract with a private utility company. The utility provider’s business record may be a public record under the FOIA. This is true even if the company’s records were not provided to the municipality.
Only records that are directly related to the performance of that government function (providing utilities to municipal residents) are subject to disclosure. But as a practical matter, if providing utilities to a city is its main business, it can be a significant part of the company’s record.
The court ruled that a private company that is too close to a government agency may also be declared to be fulfilling its governmental obligations for the purposes of the FOIA. Private non-profit foundations that raise money for public universities, but do so in a way that suggests that the foundation is actually the arm of that public university.
Even if subject to FOIA, this law provides that certain information may be exempted or edited if federal or state authorities have enforced federal or state laws or regulations that specifically prevent disclosure. Examples include criminal investigations, mental health records, or state-held corporate secrets.
Another major area to exclude from FOIA-based disclosures available to private sectors is corporate secrets and corporate commercial or financial information.
The criteria for protecting such sensitive information are obtained from someone provided under the claim that such information is proprietary or privileged, and the disclosure is the owner of such information. Will cause competitive harm.
Therefore, private sectors need to be cautious when contracting with government agencies to avoid FOIA-disclosure minefields.
It is the ultimate conflict between the openness needed by a democratic government and the secrets needed to make money.
This is an American experiment.
Brett Kepley is a lawyer at Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Inc. Submit your question to The Law Q & A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL61820.
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