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Terror concerns prompt state lawmakers to lock public records

[JURIST] A University of Florida study presented Friday at the 2003 National Freedom of Information Day Conference in Arlington, Virginia shows that since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 state lawmakers have enacted dozens of legal and administrative rule-changes limiting public access to government-held information about building plans, evacuation procedures, medical supplies and other security-related issues. UF researchers at the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project rated state laws on access to security, public safety and terrorism-related records on a scale from "sunny" - in reference to public access "sunshine laws" - to "dark," for the most closed. Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia were rated "nearly dark" due to laws limiting access to many records on preparedness and security risks. Project Director Bill Chamberlin said: "It is one thing to keep sensitive information out of the hands of the terrorists, but quite another to use terrorism as an excuse to shield government officials from being accountable for their actions." Read the University of Florida press release and review state rankings on public access to records on preparation for and reaction to terrorism.

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