LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - Michigan State Rep. Mike Harris introduced new legislation earlier this week that he says is designed to increase government transparency.
The bill would prohibit the use of code in government communications.
"There was an email that we were made aware of that was requested by FOIA. Now, apparently, this email was not searchable because a portion of it was in Greek," said Harris, referencing an email sent in 2021. "When the email finally was disclosed, they translated the Greek letters into a little paragraph regarding the Flint water crisis."
Further reporting by the Detroit Free Press found that the partial change in language in the email does happen on its own. It's a tech glitch you might see when looking at emails on different platforms.
"Whether this was nefarious or accidental really makes no difference. It's made us aware of a potential issue, and we want to make sure that we fix that issue so people going forward can feel a little bit more confident that their government's not hiding things from them," Harris said.
The bill Harris introduced on Wednesday would amend the state's Freedom of Information Act laws to prohibit the use of coded language, foreign characters, or "any other content that would conceal the meaning of the document."
Failure to comply would result in a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and jail time.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer's office declined to comment on the new bill, and the spokeswoman for the Michigan House Democrats told CBS News Detroit in an email the legislation is "a political stunt used to purposefully spread misinformation regarding an issue that has already been addressed."
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