Bill hurts open records lawsChanges made to a proposal restricting the release of 911 recordings make the idea more palatable to members of the media, although we’re still not completely comfortable with the bill.
By: Minot Daily News, The Jamestown Sun
Changes made to a proposal restricting the release of 911 recordings make the idea more palatable to members of the media, although we’re still not completely comfortable with the bill.
The legislation, HB 1156, is aimed at protecting those who make 911 calls, with supporters especially concerned that recordings of such calls can easily end up as entertainment on the Internet. The bill would allow people to listen to the calls or obtain a transcript, but bar them from obtaining an actual recording without the consent of emergency authorities. The original version barred release of any recordings without the consent of the person making the call, but members of the North Dakota media objected, arguing that 911 calls provide valuable information during times of emergencies and accidents.
The updated bill would also bar the release of a caller’s address, identity and any other personal information.
We’re more comfortable with the bill after the changes, although any attempts to squash the release of public information should make everyone in the state nervous. North Dakota has some of the strongest open records laws in the nation, and any attempts to cut into those freedoms should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism.
We can live with HB 1156 with the changes. But it’s with reluctance that we would accept those changes. The state’s open records laws should not be tinkered with lightly by legislators.