Long Island Town Puts Brakes on Social Media

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Town officials of Oyster Bay (NY) likely aren’t scoring points with transparency advocates after clamping down on how the town’s information is released through social networks.

But legal experts believe the more cautious approach is a good one for many local governments.

The Long Island town revised its information technology policy to prohibit employees from communicating official documents through social media applications without prior authorization, according to Newsday.

Although the move may slow interaction between residents and the town, Chuck Thompson, general counsel and executive director of the International Municipal Lawyers Association, felt the decision might help address one of the biggest issues local governments are currently struggling with -- disclosure requirements. For example, if a local government has a bond issue outstanding and sends information out in a way that might get to one investor before another, Thompson believes the US Securities and Exchange Commission may view that as a violation.

That's just one concern in a litany of other privacy laws and limitations a municipality may be subject to on both the state and federal levels. “There is good reason for a local government to control release of its information,” Thompson said. “Not so much to restrict the dissemination of the information, but to insure that it is disseminated properly.”

Long Island Town Puts Brakes on Social Media