Q&A: Redaction justification


From the News and Tribune (Jeffersonville):

Q: Last week the Jeffersonville Re­­development Commission received and subsequently voted on a proposal for archaeological work at an area park. The vote was taken during a public meeting, but the commission didn’t want to give me a copy of the proposal, saying it contained confidential information. 

I filed a written request, and the commission has since provided me with a redacted copy of the document. The officials justified the redaction by referring to IC 14-21-1-32. I’ve never heard of this exemption before.

A: I recall the legislative passage of this statute (see below).

The concern raised was in revealing the location of archaeological sites because there are individuals who may attempt to plunder the sites in the middle of the night looking for antiquities that they can sell – and in the process potentially damage the site and prevent archeologists from learning more about the history of the location.

You might want to ask whether the confidentiality falls under (b) or (a). If (a), they would have greater discretion to share information about the site, which would be of interest to the public.

IC 14-21-1-32: Confiden­tial archeological site information

Sec. 32. (a) Subject to subsections (b) and (c), the division may keep reports and information concerning the location of historic and archeological sites confidential if the director of the division determines that disclosure would likely:

(1) risk harm to the historic or archeological site;

(2) cause a significant invasion of privacy; or

(3) impede the use of a traditional religious site by practitioners.

(b) The division may not disclose to the public reports and information required to be confidential under federal law.

(c) If the director of the division determines that reports and information should be confidential under subsection (a), the director of the department, in consultation with the director of the division, shall determine who may have access to the confidential reports and information.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.