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Government Data Practices Summary

The Government Data Practices Act creates a presumption that all government data is public, but contains numerous exceptions to this presumption. Minn. Stat. ch. 13.

Government data is defined broadly to include all data held by a government agency, regardless of form or storage media of the data. All government data is presumed to be available to the public, except as specifically provided otherwise.

The act contains a number of exceptions to the presumption that government data is public. Each statutory exception states that data is private, nonpublic, confidential, or protected nonpublic.

Private Data that identifies an individual and that is available only to the subject of the data
Confidential Data that identifies an individual and that is not available to anyone, including the subject of the data
Nonpublic Data that does not identify an individual and that is available only to the subject of the data (e.g., to a business)
Protected Nonpublic Data that does not identify an individual and that is not available to anyone, including the subject of the data

The law allows a government agency to apply to the Commissioner of Administration for a temporary classification of data as something other than public. Under specified conditions, the commissioner has power to grant these temporary classifications, which are effective only until the legislature has an opportunity to act.

A governmental unit must allow a person to inspect public data for no charge. Governmental units must make copies of public data upon request, but may charge the person the actual costs of searching for retrieving, and copying the data requested.

June 2009

Access to Government

For additional information: see Minnesota Government Data Practices Act – a 12-page publication providing an overview of the data practices act, highlighting its most significant procedural features, rights, and remedies. July 2010.

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