Freedom of information law (California)

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Freedom of information in California is controlled by Constitutional, legislative, and judicial rules.

California Constitutional Amendment[edit]

On November 2, 2004, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 59.[1] Commonly called the Sunshine Amendment, it added Article I, Section 3(b) to the California Constitution, which reads in part:

"The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny."[2]

In September 2013 the legislature approved a constitutional amendment, authored by state senator Mark Leno, which would further incorporate the Public Records Act into the California State Constitution. The amendment clarifies that local governments must comply with requests for publicly available documents, and requires local governments to pay the costs of those requests in full. The proposed amendment went to the voters for approval in June 2014,[3] and was passed with 61.8% of the vote.[4]

California Public Records Act[edit]

California's open records law is the California Public Records Act, found in the California Government Code Sections 6250 through 6276.48.


County of Santa Clara v. CFAC was a decision of the California Courts of Appeal limiting the ability of a California state or local agencies to limit the disclosure of, copyright, or require end user agreements for, records and data requested under the CPRA.

Open Meetings[edit]

The law in California pertaining to open meetings is set forth in three Acts:

  • the Ralph M. Brown Act, found at Sections 54950 through 54963 of the California Government Code,
  • the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act ("Bagley-Keene Act"), found at Sections 11120 through 11132 of the California Government Code,
  • the open meeting provisions governing the State's legislative branch, enacted in 1989 and found at Sections 9027 though 9031 of the California Government Code.

California Shield Law[edit]

The California Shield Law provides legal protections to journalists seeking to maintain the confidentiality of an unnamed source or unpublished information obtained during newsgathering.


  1. ^ For a detailed discussion, see the foreword to the California section of the Open Government Guide.
  2. ^ Cal. Const. Art. I, § 3(b)
  3. ^ White, Jeremy B. (September 10, 2013). "California Public Records Act amendment going to June ballot". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Bowen, Debra. "Statement of Vote, June 3, 2014 Statewide Direct Primary Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State. pp. 108–109. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 

External links[edit]