Sunday, November 8, 2009

Florida County Bans Employee Text Messaging

County staff in Alachua County, Florida may no longer use text messages to conduct government business. 

In an effort to prevent potential problems before the arise, the county manager banned employees from sending text messages dealing with county business -- whether on county-issued or personal cell phones.  The county is convinced text messages constitute public records; because the county's computer sytem cannot currently track and save text messages, the county manager apparently decided forbidding employees to send texts altogether would be the best way to comply to with the state's open records law.

Alachua County's decision to ban text messages seems to have been spurred by controvery surrounding another state agency just over a month ago.  In September, the Florida Public Service Commission (which regulates utilities in the state) disabled texting capabilities on its state-issued smartphones in September after Commission staff members were caught communicating via text messages with a Florida Power & Light lawyer in an alleged attempt to sidestep the state's open records law.

The Gainesville Sun reports more on the Alachua County story here.

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