13.03 ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT DATA.
Subdivision 1. Public data.
All government data collected, created, received, maintained or
disseminated by a government entity shall be public unless classified by statute, or temporary
classification pursuant to section
, or federal law, as nonpublic or protected nonpublic,
or with respect to data on individuals, as private or confidential. The responsible authority in
every government entity shall keep records containing government data in such an arrangement
and condition as to make them easily accessible for convenient use. Photographic, photostatic,
microphotographic, or microfilmed records shall be considered as accessible for convenient use
regardless of the size of such records.
Subd. 2. Procedures.
(a) The responsible authority in every government entity shall establish
procedures, consistent with this chapter, to insure that requests for government data are received
and complied with in an appropriate and prompt manner.
(b) The responsible authority shall prepare public access procedures in written form and
update them no later than August 1 of each year as necessary to reflect any changes in personnel
or circumstances that might affect public access to government data. The responsible authority
shall make copies of the written public access procedures easily available to the public by
distributing free copies of the procedures to the public or by posting a copy of the procedures in a
conspicuous place within the government entity that is easily accessible to the public.
(c) Full convenience and comprehensive accessibility shall be allowed to researchers
including historians, genealogists and other scholars to carry out extensive research and complete
copying of all records containing government data except as otherwise expressly provided by law.
A responsible authority may designate one or more designees.
Subd. 3. Request for access to data.
(a) Upon request to a responsible authority or designee,
a person shall be permitted to inspect and copy public government data at reasonable times and
places, and, upon request, shall be informed of the data's meaning. If a person requests access
for the purpose of inspection, the responsible authority may not assess a charge or require the
requesting person to pay a fee to inspect data.
(b) For purposes of this section, "inspection" includes, but is not limited to, the visual
inspection of paper and similar types of government data. Inspection does not include printing
copies by the government entity, unless printing a copy is the only method to provide for
inspection of the data. In the case of data stored in electronic form and made available in
electronic form on a remote access basis to the public by the government entity, inspection
includes remote access to the data by the public and the ability to print copies of or download the
data on the public's own computer equipment. Nothing in this section prohibits a government
entity from charging a reasonable fee for remote access to data under a specific statutory grant of
authority. A government entity may charge a fee for remote access to data where either the data or
the access is enhanced at the request of the person seeking access.
(c) The responsible authority or designee shall provide copies of public data upon request.
If a person requests copies or electronic transmittal of the data to the person, the responsible
authority may require the requesting person to pay the actual costs of searching for and retrieving
government data, including the cost of employee time, and for making, certifying, compiling, and
electronically transmitting the copies of the data or the data, but may not charge for separating
public from not public data. However, if 100 or fewer pages of black and white, letter or legal size
paper copies are requested, actual costs shall not be used, and instead, the responsible authority
may charge no more than 25 cents for each page copied. If the responsible authority or designee
is not able to provide copies at the time a request is made, copies shall be supplied as soon as
(d) When a request under this subdivision involves any person's receipt of copies of public
government data that has commercial value and is a substantial and discrete portion of or an
entire formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, process, database, or
system developed with a significant expenditure of public funds by the government entity, the
responsible authority may charge a reasonable fee for the information in addition to the costs of
making, certifying, and compiling the copies. Any fee charged must be clearly demonstrated
by the government entity to relate to the actual development costs of the information. The
responsible authority, upon the request of any person, shall provide sufficient documentation
to explain and justify the fee being charged.
(e) The responsible authority of a government entity that maintains public government data
in a computer storage medium shall provide to any person making a request under this section a
copy of any public data contained in that medium, in electronic form, if the government entity can
reasonably make the copy or have a copy made. This does not require a government entity to
provide the data in an electronic format or program that is different from the format or program in
which the data are maintained by the government entity. The entity may require the requesting
person to pay the actual cost of providing the copy.
(f) If the responsible authority or designee determines that the requested data is classified so
as to deny the requesting person access, the responsible authority or designee shall inform the
requesting person of the determination either orally at the time of the request, or in writing as soon
after that time as possible, and shall cite the specific statutory section, temporary classification, or
specific provision of federal law on which the determination is based. Upon the request of any
person denied access to data, the responsible authority or designee shall certify in writing that
the request has been denied and cite the specific statutory section, temporary classification, or
specific provision of federal law upon which the denial was based.
Subd. 4. Change in classification of data; effect of dissemination among agencies.
classification of data in the possession of an entity shall change if it is required to do so to comply
with either judicial or administrative rules pertaining to the conduct of legal actions or with a
specific statute applicable to the data in the possession of the disseminating or receiving entity.
(b) If data on individuals is classified as both private and confidential by this chapter, or any
other statute or federal law, the data is private.
(c) To the extent that government data is disseminated to a government entity by another
government entity, the data disseminated shall have the same classification in the hands of the
entity receiving it as it had in the hands of the entity providing it.
(d) If a government entity disseminates data to another government entity, a classification
provided for by law in the hands of the entity receiving the data does not affect the classification
of the data in the hands of the entity that disseminates the data.
Subd. 5. Copyright or patent of government data.
A government entity may enforce a
copyright or acquire a patent for a computer software program or components of a program
created by that government entity without statutory authority. In the event that a government
entity acquires a patent to a computer software program or component of a program, the data shall
be treated as trade secret information pursuant to section
Subd. 6. Discoverability of not public data.
If a government entity opposes discovery
of government data or release of data pursuant to court order on the grounds that the data are
classified as not public, the party that seeks access to the data may bring before the appropriate
presiding judicial officer, arbitrator, or administrative law judge an action to compel discovery or
an action in the nature of an action to compel discovery.
The presiding officer shall first decide whether the data are discoverable or releasable
pursuant to the rules of evidence and of criminal, civil, or administrative procedure appropriate to
If the data are discoverable the presiding officer shall decide whether the benefit to the
party seeking access to the data outweighs any harm to the confidentiality interests of the entity
maintaining the data, or of any person who has provided the data or who is the subject of the
data, or to the privacy interest of an individual identified in the data. In making the decision, the
presiding officer shall consider whether notice to the subject of the data is warranted and, if
warranted, what type of notice must be given. The presiding officer may fashion and issue any
protective orders necessary to assure proper handling of the data by the parties. If the data are
a videotape of a child victim or alleged victim alleging, explaining, denying, or describing an
act of physical or sexual abuse, the presiding officer shall consider the provisions of section
611A.90, subdivision 2
, paragraph (b).
Subd. 7. Data transferred to archives.
When government data that is classified as not public
by this chapter or any other statute, including private data on decedents and confidential data on
decedents, is physically transferred to the state archives, the data shall no longer be classified as
not public and access to and use of the data shall be governed by section
Subd. 8. Change to classification of data not on individuals.
Except for security
information, nonpublic and protected nonpublic data shall become public either ten years after the
creation of the data by the government entity or ten years after the data was received or collected
by any governmental entity unless the responsible authority for the originating or custodial entity
for the data reasonably determines that, if the data were made available to the public or to the
data subject, the harm to the public or to a data subject would outweigh the benefit to the public
or to the data subject. If the responsible authority denies access to the data, the person denied
access may challenge the denial by bringing an action in district court seeking release of the data.
The action shall be brought in the district court located in the county where the data are being
maintained, or, in the case of data maintained by a state agency, in any county. The data in dispute
shall be examined by the court in camera. In deciding whether or not to release the data, the court
shall consider the benefits and harms in the same manner as set forth above. The court shall make
a written statement of findings in support of its decision.
Subd. 9. Effect of changes in classification of data.
Unless otherwise expressly provided by
a particular statute, the classification of data is determined by the law applicable to the data at the
time a request for access to the data is made, regardless of the data's classification at the time it
was collected, created, or received.
Subd. 10. Costs for providing copies of data.
Money collected by a responsible authority
in a state agency for the actual cost to the agency of providing copies or electronic transmittal
of government data is appropriated to the agency and added to the appropriations from which
the costs were paid.
Subd. 11. Treatment of data classified as not public; public meetings.
Not public data
may be discussed at a meeting open to the public to the extent provided in section
Subd. 12. Pleadings.
Pleadings, as defined by court rule, served by or on a government
entity, are public data to the same extent that the data would be public if filed with the court.
History: 1979 c 328 s 7; 1980 c 603 s 7; 1981 c 311 s 39; 1Sp1981 c 4 art 1 s 6; 1982 c 545
s 2,24; 1984 c 436 s 2-4; 1985 c 298 s 1-4; 1987 c 351 s 1; 1990 c 573 s 1; 1991 c 319 s 2; 1991 c
345 art 1 s 44; 1992 c 569 s 1,2; 1994 c 618 art 1 s 1,2; 1995 c 259 art 4 s 1; 1996 c 440 art 1 s 2;
1999 c 227 s 1,22; 1999 c 250 art 1 s 41; 2000 468 s 4,5; 2004 c 290 s 1; 2005 c 163 s 6-12