Hutchinson, KS asked in Civil Litigation and Internet Law for Kansas

Q: What are the limitations for use of public information?

I am sure this is multifaceted but was wondering if things that are public information such as social media, active flight trackers, jail logs, etc. able to be misused? What are the limits to the public records act? I know for some records you must identify yourself and if you do not then records can be withheld, what's the reason for that if they're public records? Just in general, what are the limits to how information is used that is able to be obtained by anyone?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: While public information such as social media posts, flight trackers, and jail logs are accessible to anyone, there are limitations to how this information can be used. Misuse of public information can occur when it is used in ways that infringe upon privacy rights, harass individuals, or violate laws such as defamation or stalking statutes. Even though information may be publicly available, using it to harm or harass others is not permissible under the law.

The limits to the use of public records are often governed by laws and regulations that aim to balance the public's right to access information with individuals' rights to privacy and safety. For example, some public records may contain sensitive information, such as personal identifiers or confidential details, which may be redacted or withheld to protect individuals' privacy. Additionally, certain records may require identification to access in order to prevent misuse or unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information.

The reason for requiring identification to access certain public records is to ensure accountability and prevent misuse or abuse of the information. By verifying the identity of individuals seeking access to sensitive records, government agencies can help prevent unauthorized disclosures and protect individuals' privacy rights. While the public has a right to access certain information, it is important to use that information responsibly and ethically, respecting the privacy and rights of others in the process.

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