Thoughts on redaction

March 25, 2011

Posted by Matt Ehling

Part of PRM’s mission is to ensure government transparency and accountability by vigorously employing state and federal public record laws. Through government data requests, we seek a variety of document types. While most of these documents are recordings of governmental affairs, some of them contain information relating to private individuals – home phone numbers, addresses, and other such data.

When this sort of information is included in released documents, we tend to redact it, unless there is a compelling reason to post it in its original form. For our recent story on the standoff between Theodore Kowalzek and Anoka County Sheriff’s deputies, we have decided not to post photos of the deceased Mr. Kowalzek beyond those initially released by the Minnesota BCA. We have also declined to post most photos of a deceased Anoka County K9 unit as well. These decisions were made for privacy reasons, in part, but also to avoid a sensational presentation of the research material for this story.

At the same time, these photos are part of the public record, and have been released as public data. Any information that we redact from public documents can be inspected for the purposes of research. Please contact us with any questions.