ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 2524 would amend Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law (RTKL) to make a variety of updates and changes to the statute, including provisions regarding vexatious requesters, requests by incarcerated people, exceptions to public records, retention of records, commercial requests, appeals processes, and fees.
Although the bill includes some useful changes to the RTKL, two of its provisions—designating some people as “vexatious requesters” and limiting requests from incarcerated people—establish dangerous and potentially unconstitutional precedents for allowing the state to pick and choose to whom it responds.
If enacted, HB 2524 would, for the first time in the 65-year history of Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law, allow government to define access to public records based on who is making the request. If a record is public, then it should be available to all members of the public without exception. Changing this framework to allow government agencies to condition access based on who the requester is, or what their intentions are, opens a Pandora’s box that would be nearly impossible to close and could easily, if not presumptively, bite the hand that penned it.
Check the bill's status here.