Oct. 26, 2019

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today urged the five other statewide officials to join her in encouraging the legislature to strengthen the Missouri Sunshine Law by banning the use of self-deleting applications for public business. She did so in a letter sent today to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway

“Missourians expect government to be honest when conducting public business,” Auditor Galloway wrote. “Banning self-destructing messaging by public entities, officials, and employees is another step to ensuring transparency, and is the best antidote to any perceived or actual government impropriety. It is not only a best practice, it is just good common sense.”

Such a measure would be consistent with recent guidelines approved by the State Records Commission. The guidelines, which were adopted by a bipartisan vote, stated that the use of auto-deleting applications should be prohibited by policy. The State Records Commission membership includes the State Auditor, Secretary of State, Attorney General and the Governor’s designees.

The Auditor noted that during the 2019 legislative session, legislation prohibiting the use of self-destructing messaging technology for use in public business was approved by the House. The measure then died in the Senate.

Auditor Galloway recently sent a letter to all local governments encouraging them to ban self-deleting applications. The letter included updated guidelines adopted by the State Records Commission and the Local Records Board related to electronic communications. The guidelines are the first time Missouri governments have had clear direction on self-deleting applications but, unlike the Sunshine Law, the guidelines are not legally enforceable.

The full letter to the other statewide elected officials is available at https://auditor.mo.gov/media/pdf/2019-10-21-letter-statewides. The letter sent earlier this month to local governments throughout Missouri is available at https://auditor.mo.gov/media/pdf/09-02-19-letter-local-governments.