Legal Q&A (10.16.19)
Q. Can/should an agency require a person filing a FOI request include name, telephone number, physical address?
A. Public bodies, including, but limited to, state agencies, are not required to gather contact information of a SCFOIA requester beyond what is necessary to provide a written response to the request and (eventually) supply the records or an opportunity to inspect them to the requester. Asking for more information than is necessary is likely a violation of SCFOIA’s mandate that S.C. residents be able “to learn and report fully the activities of their public officials at a minimum cost or delay to the persons seeking access to public documents or meetings.” S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-15.
Taylor M. Smith IV is a media lawyer who represents the S.C. Press Association and its newspapers. As one of our FOI/Legal Hotline attorneys, he is available to answer your open government, legal and libel questions. Call (803) 750-9561.