New York Freedom of Information Law
Article 6 (Sections 84-90)
The New York Freedom of Information Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in New York. New York’s first such law was passed in 1974 but that law was repealed and replaced in 1977 with a significantly changed law. Important amendments were then made to the law in 1982, 2005, and 2008. A record is defined as any information kept, held, filed, produced, or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever. Documents are still covered by the act if a promise of confidentiality has been given, if they are in temporary possession of someone else, or if they originated outside the government but have come into possession of the government.
Anyone can request records in New York. A statement of purpose is usually not required but several New York courts have considered the requestor’s motives to be relevant where the motive of the document requestor was to obtain documents relative to pending litigation. The New York Freedom of Information Law also allows agencies to deny requests for lists if the lists that would be obtained would be used for commercial or fundraising purposes. However, there are no restrictions on how public records may be used, once they have been obtained. Allow five days for a response to a public records request.