Helen Vera, a associate with the firm of Ropes & Gray, was among the presenters at a Sunshine Week event of the D.C. Open Government Coalition at the National Press Club. Just like us, Vera said, "State and local officials are texting all the time." And, she added, making new law as they go along.
Some states consider text messages "transitory" and not subject to records laws in the same way that emails are. Vera cited a court case in Colorado, in which a judge found that the Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt didn't violate the law by erasing text messages between her and Town Manager Mike Scanlon. "The lawsuit targeted Whitsitt for not turning over texts that she exchanged with Scanlon, and that Scanlon provided as part of the open-records request," Scott Condon of The Aspen Times reported. "The DA determined that no criminal charges were warranted."
|Vera noted new apps that can automatically delete text messages.|
"It's a very sort-of-ripe issue and we expect to continue to see that this is an issue that's litigated," Vera said. She warned that new applications such as Telegram give texters the ability to have their messages automatically deleted. One, Confide, uses the slogan "Your off the record messenger."