Pennsylvania’s highest court will consider whether state police must disclose more details about how they use information from social media to investigate crimes and make hiring decisions, the Associated Press reports. The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union of a lower court ruling in May that upheld the police agency’s decision to black out large sections of a document it provided. The justices will review whether the lower court should have privately examined the redacted portions of the state police’s social media monitoring policy and other evidence before overturning an Office of Open Records’ order granting access to the ACLU.
The Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association urged the high court to take the appeal. Melissa Melewsky, the group’s lawyer, said the lower court “essentially said, ‘We don’t have to look at the actual records in this case, we’ll just take [the Pennsylvania State Police’s] word for it.’ That’s troubling from a public access perspective because it takes the best evidence in a case — the actual records — and removes them from the decision-making process, relying instead on indirect evidence and leaving the public without any real opportunity to challenge.” Redacted sections addressed how and when troopers should use open sources during investigations, what approval they need, when they should go undercover and use an online alias, and how to verify information they collect.