New technologies strain data practices statutes


Look no further than the use of electronic license plate readers and the shift from storing information on a computer hard-drive to the cloud, and you’ll understand the importance of data practices. At its first gathering, House Civil Law Committee Chairman John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) told committee members the nuanced area of law is “changing as rapidly as the technology in your pocket.”

He noted that, because of the issue’s growing importance, a subcommittee on data practices is expected to be formalized. That group will first hear these types of bills before moving them to the full committee. Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) is expected to be named chairman of the subcommittee.

Stacie Christensen, information policy division administrator with the Administration Department, gave the committee and overview of data practices. As members consider policy, she said it’s important to balance the government’s need for data to do its work, while maintaining government transparency and protecting certain privacy rights.

The state’s Data Practices Act presumes that all government data are public, she said. The law applies to most state and local government entities, but not to the Legislature or the courts.