Your Right to Know

The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is a non-profit group founded in 1978 and made up of members of the media and the public who are dedicated to promoting and defending access to public records and public meetings so citizens have the information they are entitled to in a free and democratic society. Democracy Campaign research director Michael Buelow is a member of the council.

Your Right to Know is a monthly column distributed by the council to educate people about their rights under the state’s open meetings and open records laws and inform the public about media censorship issues. Past columns can be found below. The most recent column can be found here.


Policies put public health at risk
April 2018

Let the sunshine in!
March 2018

Citizens have a right to electronic records
February 2018

Lawmakers should keep promise on transparency
January 2018


Many school districts fail test on records
December 2017

Good government is everybody's business
November 2017

Our officials giving out too much information?
October 2017

Officials shouldn't block social media users
September 2017

Supreme court openness rulings a mixed bag
August 2017

End lawmakers' ability to destroy records
July 2017

Mail ballots are an affront to transparency
June 2017

Lawmakers abuse budget-fix motion
May 2017

Walker's order on records is welcome
April 2017

Opee awards recognize good acts and bad
March 2017

Keep public notices in print
March 2017

Trump raises stakes for press, public
February 2017

Public's trust was abused over police videos
January 2017


Release John Doe II case records now
December 2016

Police must see police shooting videos
November 2016

Schimel training videos should be released
October 2016

Coveted records exemption wrong for Wisconsin
September 2016

Supreme Court cases key to openness
August 2016

Some lawmakers still crave secrecy
July 2016

Ruling restores access to accident report data
June 2016

State should support student expression
May 2016

Walker's records directive is good news
April 2016

Opee Awards honor good acts and bad
March 2016

Records advocates plan traveling show
March 2016

Concerns linger over 'transitory' records
February 2016

A tough year for transparency
January 2016


Open the door to open data
December 2015

Bill would make it harder to follow the money
November 2015

Back open government? Prove it!
October, 2015

Court loss could prove costly
September 2015

Democracy demands open government
August 2015

Fight lawmakers shocking attack on open government
July 2015

UW shouldn't hide finalists names
July 2015

No ‘executive privilege’ for records
June 2015

Open government must embrace digital age
May 2015

Openness laws could use an update
April 2015

Don't let UW hide research records
March 2015

State needs to fix drivers records access issue
February 2015

Official calendars are a basic public record
January 2015


HIPAA's reach is often overextended
December 2014

Cops in shootings should be promptly named
November 2014

Walker, Burke weigh in on openness
October 2014

Disciplined workers should all be named
September 2014

AG rivals all back more openness
August 2014

A wish-list for open government
July 2014

Media need photos to tell the story
June 2014

Lawmakers should retain, release records
May 2014

AG's office could do more on openness
April 2014

Walker must answer questions on emails
March 2014

OpenBook offers a partial peek at spending
February 2014

Local Government Center a valuable resource
January 2014


Lawmaker contacts shouldn't be secret
December 2013

Don't shield donor employer info
November 2013

Vukmir wrong on records law
October 2013

Pull back the veil on budget tweakers
September 2013

Don't delay on records requests
August 2013

Don't exempt UW-Madison from records law
July 2013

Voucher schools should be more open
June 2013

Cops wrong to shield driver data
May 2013

Child-care, elder records easier to get
April 2013

Don't hike cost of public records
March 2013

Legislature oversteps with new rules
February 2013

Keep DNR enforcement sessions open
January 2013


City leads the way on openness
December 2012

Public’s business shouldn’t be ‘private’
November 2012

Rulings prompt records guide update
October 2012

Lawmakers exploit loophole to hide ALEC ties
September 2012

Stop treating photography as a crime
August 2012

Court: You can't charge a lot for this record
July 2012

Gov rivals imperfect on open records
June 2012

National convo brings together access advocates
May 2012

Dick Wheeler, knower-in-chief
April 2012

Let the sunshine in . . . please
March 2012

Work rules can’t be hashed out in secret
February 2012

Gun permit secrecy shields law's impact
January 2012


Walker has mixed record on openness
December 2011

End lawmakers’ ability to purge records
November 2011

Photojournalist's arrest is troubling
October 2011

Contacts with lawmakers should be public
September 2011

Redistricting should be more transparent
August 2011

Legislature should be subject to Open Meetings Law
July 2011

Judge gives open meetings law vital support
June 2011

Lawmakers shouldn’t meet in secret
May 2011

Open meetings case presents tough issues
April 2011

In Madison’s memory, let the sunshine in
March 2011

Opee awards toast open government
March 2011

Keep electronic communications open
February 2011


How open will Walker be?
December 2010

Open up complaints against lawyers
November 2010

Let the sunshine in on contracts
October 2010

Ask candidates about openness
September 2010

Email ruling a blow to openness
August 2010

Public info belongs on the internet
July 2010

State shield law a step forward
May 2010

Don’t end access to 911 calls
April 2010

Guest column for Sunshine Week
March 2010

Don’t erode access to court records
February 2010

State needs rules for sealed warrants
January 2010


Bring transparency to state spending
December 2009

WIAA needs greater transparency
November 2009

Keep court records system open
October 2009

What record requesters want -- a top ten list
September 2009

Open records delay common, enforcement lax
August 2009

Court keeps state labor info open to you
July 2009

Attorney General’s office plays vital openness role
June 2009

Public notice change should be stopped in its tracks
May 2009

Support lawmakers’ effort to end secret meetings
April 2009

Openness group doles out the honors
March 2009

911 tapes: Public access helps assess emergency response
February 2009


Signed, sealed, delivered -- but not yours
December 2008

State employees: Public servants, not secret agents
November 2008

Openness watchdog turns 30
October 2008

Ask candidates for office about open government issues
September 2008

Respect the rights of news photographers
August 2008

Supreme Court rulings impact open government
July 2008

Crandon shooting: Secrecy leaves questions unanswered
June 2008

Police should share basic crime information
May 2008

Is it time to modernize public records law?
April 2008

Openness group doles out the honors
March 2008

Does Wisconsin need a shield law?
February 2008

Don’t erase criminal charges from online records
January 2008


Early case sheds light on records
December 2007

Make electronic campaign data easier to understand
November 2007

Close court records, open can of worms
October 2007

Court shapes open government in key cases
September 2007

Judge slams door on integrity of Legislature
August 2007

Preserve public access to police reports
June 2007

Police should provide basic information
May 2007

’Sunshine’ law victories enforce openness
April 2007

Openness group awards cheers and jeers
March 2007

Lawmaking: What’s open to one should be open to all
February 2007

What’s on the agenda? It’s anyone’s guess
January 2007


Law inhibits tax policy discussion
December 2006

How open to openness will new AG be?
October 2006

Keep court records open and online
August 2006

Attorney General Candidate Questionnaire
July 2006

Secret development deals flout open meetings law
June 2006

Attorney General defends secrecy
May 2006

State senators exclude public from tax hearing
April 2006

Silent treatment: Denials were worse than refusals
March 2006

Local officials expand power to keep secrets
February 2006

How to use the Open Records Law
January 2006


Concealed carry permits should be open
November 2005

Lawmakers should release bill drafts
October 2005

Ruling could wreak records havoc
August 2005

Officials should make e-mail public
June 2005

Open Government Problem Areas
May 2005

When officials become "draft" dodgers
March 2005

Shine light on contract process
February 2005

Lautenschlager champions open government
January 2005


Records custodians hide behind the lawyers
December 2004

Court ruling a victory for openness
November 2004

Keep public notices law intact
October 2004

Make bank tax settlements public
September 2004

’Quasi-public’ does not mean ’private’
August 2004

It’s time to end closed caucuses
July 2004

Hotline helps media gain access
June 2004

Officials concoct ways to thwart records access
May 2004

New law improves records access
April 2004

Limiting records access invites abuse
March 2004

Inmates should have access to newspaper clippings
February 2004

Government secrecy gets caught on candid camera
January 2004


Medical privacy rules go too far
December 2003

Weapons carriers’ names should not be concealed
November 2003

The public needs access to health info
October 2003

Zoning board decisions do not merit secrecy
September 2003

Records fix shows system can work
August 2003

Wisconsin  Freedom of Information Council