Public Records...

How Available Are They?

With the invention of the Internet, information has become more readily available. This availability has raised numerous questions about what types of information should be available for just anyone to find out about. In Florida, all public records and meetings are available to anyone who wants to see them.

The state of Florida defines a public record as "all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency." A public meeting is defined as "all discussions or deliberations as well as the formal action taken by a board or commission."

The federal government has a law similar to the Florida Sunshine Laws. It is called the Freedom of Information Act. It was passed in 1974 as a response to the Watergate scandal. It has been called one of the greatest democratic reforms of all time.