ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
Currently, Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) does not distinguish between requests for commercial or noncommercial purposes. SB 210 would add a new category of commercial purpose requesters that are subject to different rules and fee structures.
The ACLU-PA opposes SB 210 for the following reasons:
- SB 210 would create, for the first time, distinctions between types of requesters under the Right to Know Law.
- “Commercial purpose,” as defined under SB 210, would invite subjective and ultimately different interpretations of who gets designated as a commercial requester.
- SB 210 would impose a different fee structure for commercial purpose requesters.
- SB 210 fails to define the authority of the Office of Open Records when considering an appeal.
If enacted, SB 210 would, for the first time in the 65-year history of Pennsylvania’s public records law, allow government agencies to impose different rules and fee structures on requesters depending on who they are and why they want the information. If a record is public, then it should be available to all members of the public without exception. Compounding the problem of such a departure is the imprecise criteria for making this distinction, inviting a patchwork of incongruous outcomes throughout the commonwealth.
Check the bill's status here.