May 21, 2016 – Peter Schorsch
The state’s position on its public records is increasingly becoming, “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.”
The First Amendment Foundation, which watchdogs Floridians’ open government, now has a handy ticker on its website.
Reminiscent of the National Debt Clock, it now tallies 1,106 exemptions of your right to know.
Still more go into effect this year. They include an expansion of the exemption for “trade secrets” to include financial information (though the new provision doesn’t define what that means.)
Meantime, companies are going to judges for court orders declaring that certain info is off-limits as trade secrets.
As FloridaPolitics.com reported this week, a company that manages dental benefits for the state children’s health insurance program is fighting the release of what it calls “proprietary, confidential business information.”
Another ongoing case was filed by an animal research lab over paperwork it said contained “customer and supplier information.”
In both cases, the companies may well be within rights, fighting requests likely submitted by competitors seeking a business advantage. And generally, there are fair legal and business reasons for some information being out of the public domain.
Questions remain: Where does it stop? Who draws the line? If judges, does this mean ever-increasing cases in the courts by parties seeking to define their rights under all these exemptions? Stay tuned… [READ MORE]