The Pennsylvania Right to Know Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies. Prior to 2008, the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act was widely regarded as one of the worst in the country, partly because the pre-2008 law presumed that government records were not public, unless someone who wanted the record could establish otherwise. A new law passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Ed Rendell “flipped the presumption”. This new law went into full effect on January 1, 2009 and it states, in sharp distinction to the previous law, that all documents will be presumed to be open to the public unless the agency holding them can prove otherwise.
The Pennsylvania Right to Know Law defines records as, “information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that documents a transaction or activity of an agency and that is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a transaction, business or activity of the agency.” Any United States citizen may request public records and no statement of purpose is required. There is no restriction on the use of records and five days is the limit for responses to requested documents.