Public Records Text Archiving Compliance – Optimizing Mobile Archiving Technology

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Archiving text messages that are deemed government records is a substantial challenge facing all state governments and public agencies. Under the retention requirements of Freedom of Information Act and most State Open Record Laws, the public has the right to access federal and state records, including employee text messages, typically within 6 months  from the date of the request.

The NARA 2019 mandate also requires government agencies and offices to establish systems and policies that will enable them to capture electronic records, including mobile SMS and WhatsApp chats, and store them in an accessible format.

With such an abridged time frame and technological burden, and in light of the widespread BYOD policy and text messaging in public offices, it has become a priority, especially of some state governments, to implement a solution that will allow them to capture and records mobile SMS of all their employees.

In this infographic, we will detail some states and local governments across the U.S. that have already taken the initiative of utilizing solutions, including mobile archiving technology, to meet the public records text archiving requirements of State Open Record Laws.

Public Records Text Archiving Compliance

Tallahassee, Florida

After the Tallahassee Democrat sued the City of Tallahassee over its failure to capture and produce text messages and its elected officials, the city commissioners immediately voted to draft a text messaging policy that would mandate retaining text messages in the way they retain their emails.

By implementing a mobile archiving technology, the city commissioners hope that they will be able to capture text messages of all their workers and officials, including those sent and received on personal devices.

According to reports, the lawsuit came after the city failed to produce texts from the cell phone of City Manager Rick Fernandez in which he solicited and accepted expensive football tickets from a city-registered lobbyist. While Fernandez successfully deleted the messages, he was placed on paid leave several days after the Democrat was able to obtain and published the copy of text exchange.

Washington State

Since the courts have decided that text messages by government employees are public records, localities across the Washington state have turned to text message archiving solutions to archive workers’ text conversations. While some initially implemented a “no-texting policy” to avoid liability, most IT leaders around the state realized that such policy was hardly sustainable or effective.

The City of Bonney Lake, which receives at least five public records request a month, has been archiving its government employees’ text messages in a searchable way since 2011. Other cities, including Olympia, Pullman, and counties of Benton and Clark have also turned to mobile archiving technology in order to preserve government text messages and comply with public records law.

Rock County, Wisconsin

The local government of Rock County, Wisconsin announced in 2018 that they would be implementing a text message archiving system to make accessible the mobile SMS of their employees as public records. According to Rock County Administrator Josh Smith, the captured text messages will be stored on a server and kept for about seven years, the same duration as government emails.

The county installed the mobile archiving solution on each of its 573 phones to manage the archiving process. With the app installed, the county IT staff are now able to retrieve the messages and, along with department heads, supply substantive texts, Smith said.

All these three use cases only prove how much a text message archiving solution can help the public sector keep up with changing public records archiving requirements. With TeleMessage, public agencies and institutions in the U.S. can effectively comply with FOIA text archiving requirements. The TeleMessage Mobile Archiver is an enterprise messaging app that effectively addresses compliance, regulatory, eDiscovery response requirements and reduces risk across the public sector.

TeleMessage captures and records mobile content, including SMS, MMS, voice calls, and WhatsApp chats from corporate or BYOD mobile phones. Messages are securely and reliably retained within TeleMessage servers or forwarded to an archiving data storage vendor of your choice.

Our mobile archiving products securely capture content from mobile carriers and mobile devices for a variety of ownership models (BYOD, CYOD, and employer-issued). With our multiple archiving solutions, you can always find the right tools or blend for your requirements:

TeleMessage offers cross-carrier and international mobile text & calls archiving for corporate and BYOD phones. Visit our website today at to learn more about our mobile archiving products.

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