Metadata Is Public Record

As more and more records go electronic the law scampers to catch up. Here’s a recent example from the Supreme Court of Washington State. The question? Is the metadata associated with a public agency’s electronic records itself a public record? It’s kind of an important question. And the answer in Washington State is yes. Metadata is hidden information about the record. It discloses lots of information, including for example, when the record was created. That can be an important tidbit in any number of instances. And since a public record is typically any record that discloses the activities of the public office, the decision makes sense. The metadata surely does disclose information about the public office’s activities, perhaps more so than the record itself. Nice to see a court get it right.