OPRAmachine is pleased to announce that the New Jersey Government Records Council has recently amended their handbook for OPRA records custodians to include new guidance that specifically addresses the validity of requests received from the OPRAmachine platform. This recognition of the validity of online requests is a significant step forward for OPRAmachine users, as it provides an additional layer of credibility to our platform and the requests made through it.
On page 17 of the handbook, the New Jersey Government Records Council states:
"Internet Requests: Some public agencies and third parties (such as OPRAmachine) have created or contracted out systems that allow a citizen to fill out an online request form and file it with the custodian over the Internet. The means of submitting a request form (mail, in-person, Internet) will not affect which records will or will not be available for access."
This guidance clarifies that requests submitted through OPRAmachine are equally valid as those submitted in person or through traditional mail, and that all requests should be treated equally by custodians. Municipal attorneys who are critical of the platform's role have claimed that the public nature of OPRAmachine should necessitate a different privacy analysis in regard to the decision of records custodians to release records, however this guidance from the GRC appears to dispell such contentions.
This recognition by the New Jersey Government Records Council is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it acknowledges the growing importance of online platforms for public records requests, and the increasing use of online tools by citizens to make requests. It also recognizes the value of OPRAmachine as a trusted platform for making such requests.
Secondly, this recognition of the validity of online requests is beneficial to OPRAmachine users in several ways. It provides a level of assurance that requests made through OPRAmachine will be treated with the same respect and consideration as requests made in person or through traditional mail. This can be particularly important for records custodians who may be concerned about the legitimacy of OPRAmachine user requests or who may be seeking sensitive or confidential information.
Overall, this recognition by the New Jersey Government Records Council is an important milestone for OPRAmachine and our users. We are committed to continuing to provide a reliable and effective platform for public records requests, and we look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of New Jersey and beyond.
It's important to clarify that OPRAmachine does not have any contracts or agreements with any public agencies, nor do we serve as a representative of any agency or government body. We are an independent platform that provides a user-friendly interface for submitting public records requests to the relevant custodians.
As stated in the guidance from the New Jersey Government Records Council, third-party platforms like OPRAmachine are simply tools that allow citizens to fill out and submit online request forms. While we may provide assistance and guidance to users in the process of making requests, we do not represent any public agency or government body. Our role is solely to provide a secure, user-friendly interface for submitting requests, and to facilitate communication between requesters and custodians.
We believe that this independence is a key strength of our platform, as it allows us to maintain a neutral stance and to provide a level playing field for all users. Our primary goal is to make it as easy as possible for citizens to exercise their right to access public records, and we are committed to providing a transparent and reliable service to all users.