Utah’s New FOI Law Insult to Former Soviet Republics

Way to go, Utah! HB477 actually takes you off the ranks of US FOI law, and squarely into Eastern Europe…wait. No. They have better laws.

Just out of curiosity, David has been comparing Utah’s new law (as of July 1) with other countries (great site for that: http://right2info.org/laws).

Utah will be more secretive than Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, and Albania, a former Communist regime. The Cold War is long over, but it looks like the former Commies won. Here’s a summary:


1. Presumption of openness: “The purposes of this Law are providing the realization and defense the right of access to information held by state bodies and local self-government bodies, and achieving the maximum informational openness…” Denials must be accompanied with written “concrete link” to the legislation allowing the denial.

1. Access to electronic records: No exemption for text messages or other electronic records. “There shall be provided free of charge familiarization and free of charge electronic copying of the documents and materials containing in the centralized automatized informational system of the official information.”

2. Copy fees: Preparation is “free of charge”. First five pages of copies free – then actual cost of copying allowed to be charged.


1. Presumption of openness: “If the requested information on a official  document is restricted by another law, the public authority shall provide the requested with a written declaration expressing the reasons of such refusal and/or basic rules on which the requested can get such information.”

2. Electronic records: Doesn’t explicitly say they are secret.

Assumption is electronic records would be public.

3. Copy fees: “Fees shall not exceed the direct costs incurred for the supply of the data” (direct materials). Data shall be provided free of charge.


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