Request for Email Metadata (Information Technology)

Matt Chapman filed this request with the Information Technology of Rapid City, SD.
Multi Request Request for Email Metadata


From: Matt Chapman

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the South Dakota Open Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

For all email accounts under the management of this city, please provide me the following information for all emails sent and received during January, 2019:

1. From address
2. To address
3. bcc addresses
4. cc addresses
5. Time
6. Date

E-mail metadata is trivially exportable from the IT infrastructure of any modern e-mail archiving or data retention system - such as Microsoft Outlook 365, Google, Datacove, etc. - and should be deliverable in a .CSV, .XLS, or other machine readable format.

Please note that I am not requesting the contents of each email. E-mail metadata does not include the contents of the specified e-mails, thus do not need individual review for redaction.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.


Matt Chapman - Free Our Info, NFP

From: Information Technology

Good morning,

We have received your request for certain email records of City employees and officials. I am writing to inform you that we will not be providing that information because it is exempt from disclosure under SDCL 1-27-1.5(12), copied in relevant part below:

1-27-1.5. Certain records not open to inspection and copying. The following records are not subject to §§ 1-27-1, 1-27-1.1, and 1-27-1.3: (12) Correspondence, memoranda, calendars or logs of appointments, working papers, and records of telephone calls of public officials or employees;

Thank you,

Jessica Rogers
Assistant City Attorney
300 Sixth Street
Rapid City, SD 57701

From: Matt Chapman

Please revisit the provided exemption. The records respondent to my request do not fit any of the listed criteria. The closest is correspondence, however this request is NOT for correspondence - only the metadata that surrounds the correspondence. For the purpose of this request, and in terms of how the information is stored on an email server, the metadata is distinct and separate from correspondences themselves.

From: Information Technology

If you would like to appeal this decision, you must first submit a written request pursuant to SDCL 1-27-37, copied below. Pauline Sumption, our Finance Officer, is the public record officer for the City of Rapid City.

1-27-37. Written request for disclosure of records. If an informal request is denied in whole or in part by the custodian of a document or record, a written request may be made by the requestor pursuant to this section:
(1) A written request may be made to the public record officer of the public entity involved. The public record officer shall promptly respond to the written request but in no event later than ten business days from receipt of the request. The public record officer shall respond to the request by:
(a) Providing the record in whole or in part to the requestor upon payment of any applicable fees pursuant to §§ 1-27-35 and 1-27-36;
(b) Denying the request for the record; or
(c) Acknowledging that the public record officer has received the request and providing an estimate of the time reasonably required to further respond thereto;
(2) Additional time to respond to the written request under subsection (1)(c) of this section may be based upon the need to clarify the nature and scope of the written request, to locate and assemble the information requested, to notify any third persons or government agencies affected by the written request, or to determine whether any of the information requested is not subject to disclosure and whether a denial should be made as to all or part of the written request;
(3) If a written request is unclear, the public record officer may require the requestor to clarify which records are being sought. If the requestor fails to provide a written response to the public record officer's request for clarification within ten business days, the request shall be deemed withdrawn and no further action by the public records officer is required;
(4) If the public record officer denies a written request in whole or in part, the denial shall be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for the denial;
(5) If the public record officer fails to respond to a written request within ten business days, or fails to comply with the estimate provided under subsection (1)(3) of this section without provision of a revised estimate, the request shall be deemed denied.

Source: SL 2008, ch 14, § 5.

From: Matt Chapman

As described in my request, the statutory language cited in the rejection does not include the records pursuant to my request. The request itself is not for correspondence - only the metadata of correspondence. At a technical level, those records are distinct from the emails themselves.

Here is the technical documentation which describes how messages are stored within Exchange Server: . The takeaway from this document is that while a message itself is an object (a record), there are subobjects (also records) for 1. the message body, 2. recipients and sender and 3. attachments. To the extent that you would likely consider an attachment to be a distinct record, despite being a component of an email message in its method of storage, then it follows that the recipient objects of an email would be a distinct record apart from the message themselves.


Please see attached.