Fighting for the First Amendment: What we’re watching now

The Georgia First Amendment Foundation fights to secure and preserve access to public information and proceedings in Georgia. Our work is vital to open government and unfettered newsgathering that benefits all Georgians. Here are a few of the issues we’re keeping an eye on now:

• The Georgia General Assembly has repeatedly passed legislation expanding the secrecy around the state’s negotiations with companies that want to put factories in Georgia. Government officials want to decide what is best for communities without consulting citizens. GFAF advocates for Georgians’ right to know.
• Police are spending tax dollars to acquire body cameras, but then refusing to provide the video to the public. Police agencies are claiming it is their right to prevent the public from seeing the video for an indefinite period of time so long as they say an investigation is “open.” GFAF is working hard to make sure body cameras bring more transparency to policing.
• Convicted criminals are increasingly being permitted to erase past criminal records. GFAF is fighting to make sure these “erasure statutes” do not leave Georgia businesses and citizens at risk of hiring employees who have been found guilty of serious crimes.
• The Georgia General Assembly is delaying public and press access to records related to Georgia college sports. The public has a right to see for themselves what contracts are being signed, what misconduct has occurred and what actions have been taken. GFAF is working to prevent Georgia from imposing such long delays that the right to these records becomes meaningless.
• Georgia courts have recently issued rulings that erode transparency of public hospitals, law enforcement and other institutions. GFAF and First Amendment partners have taken action in the courts to oppose this erosion of public access.
• The rapid pace of digitization of public records has public agencies and institutions increasingly outsourcing their records management to commercial vendors. Without vigilance by GFAF, these vendors drive up cost of public records, thereby limiting access to private citizens who cannot pay commercial rates. GFAF is working to ensure public records are accessible to all citizens.
• Language on Georgia ballots has become increasingly misleading, hampering voters’ ability to make informed choices and reducing government transparency. GFAF is tracking this disturbing trend and investigating what can be done to curb it.

Become a First Amendment advocate and fight for access to public information, government transparency and free speech by becoming a GFAF member today. It’s your right to know.