U Memo 21-1

Posted on Jul 8, 2020 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 21-1
July 8, 2020
Video Camera Footage

Requester made a request to the Hawaii County Department of Finance (FIN-H) for a copy of security camera video footage from FIN-H’s Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division in Kamuela for June 24, 2019, from 9:00 to 12 pm (Video Footage).  FIN-H informed Requester that “[d]ue to unforeseen circumstances the tape is no longer available.”  Requester appealed FIN-H’s response.

OIP first found that FIN-H’s response to the record request complied with the notice provisions in section 2-71-14(c)(1), HAR.  This rule requires that when an agency is unable to disclose a record because it does not have any responsive record, the agency’s notice shall state that the agency is unable to disclose the record because the agency “does not maintain the record[.]”

FIN-H did initially maintain the Video Footage and it had retrieved the location within its electronic storage system containing the Video Footage, but subsequently discovered that the file containing the Video Footage was no longer stored there because the Video Footage had been overwritten for an unknown reason before a copy could be made.  OIP found that FIN-H’s search of the location that should have contained the Video Footage was reasonably calculated to uncover the Video Footage, and that FIN-H established that it no longer maintains the record.  OIP therefore concluded that FIN-H has no duty under the UIPA to provide access to a record it no longer maintains.

OIP then found that FIN-H made good faith attempts to copy the Video Footage, but the delay in seeking assistance of the county’s Department of Information Technology may have allowed for unintentional destruction.  OIP found FIN-H did not intentionally or knowingly destroy the Video Footage, and that its subsequent investigation and institution of a same day copying policy shows FIN-H took steps to determine what happened and to prevent it from happening again, evidencing good faith.