Is my cell phone included in the Records Management laws of Texas?

In short, yes!

To review the Texas Legislature notes that a record is defined as any “written, photographic, machine-readable, or other recorded information created or received¬†by or on behalf of a state agency…” Though this definition doesn’t specifically mention the source of media, text messages are included in this definition.

Why? In our society often times a text is sent before an email notice or even a verbal message. It is possible to create a state record on your cell phone if you are conducting official state business through your phone. 

Texting your boss/co-workers to let them know that you’ll be in for work, or to call in sick would not be a record. The following are some practical situations by which your text messages would become state records.

  1. If you’re texting a co-worker to let them know that you will be meeting with a student to discuss their graduation this year.
  2. If you text a student directly about their GPA.
  3. If you text your friend in another department for information about your departments FOAPAL code.
  4. If you text your supervisor or if you are the supervisor and the conversation discusses the details of your travel arrangements.
  5. If you are texting about anything that discusses your job, including any part of the job description, then it’s probably a record.

It’s been previously mentioned in some of the in person trainings that employees whose cell phones are personal property (not paid for using a university stipend) are exempt from this rule. However, the Attorney General does not see the funding source of phones as being the decider of what is or is not a record. For more information please read the TSLAC blog post on the issue.

Please seek more advice on this before moving forward. As always give us a call if you have any questions.

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