The Pennsylvania Right to Know Law is a state law that provides citizens with the right to access certain government records. The law applies to all state and local agencies, including executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.
Under the Right to Know Law, citizens can request access to records and information maintained by government agencies. The law defines a record as any information that is created, received, or retained by a government agency, regardless of the format or medium. This includes paper documents, electronic records, photographs, and audio and video recordings.
Citizens may request access to records by submitting a written request to the government agency that maintains the records. The agency must respond to the request within five business days and provide the records or an explanation for why the records cannot be provided.
Some records are exempt from the Right to Know Law, including records that are protected by attorney-client privilege, records that would endanger public safety or national security if released, and certain personal and confidential information. However, the exemptions are limited, and the government agency must provide a specific legal basis for denying a request for access to a record.
The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records is responsible for overseeing and enforcing the Right to Know Law. If a government agency denies a citizen’s request for access to a record, the citizen may file an appeal with the Office of Open Records. The Office of Open Records will review the appeal and issue a determination on whether the government agency must provide the requested record.