ST. PAUL, Minn. — The pursuit of documents to shed light on Minnesota government decisions is increasingly missing a key element: the paper.
As more deliberations occur via email, text messaging and other paperless platforms, there's less left for the historical record. That is in part because state data retention laws haven't kept up with fast-moving technology or the changing habits of those in power.
Minnesota's main records retention law hasn't had a major update in more than three decades.
It leaves lots of room for interpretation over what electronic records are preserved and for how long. There isn't a central repository for e-materials beyond those selectively turned over to the Historical Society for posterity. And there's little recourse when electronic records get purged.