New Mexico AG reviewing practices of child welfare workers

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he’s concerned about government employees potentially deleting public information without going through a legal process.

He confirmed Wednesday that he’s reviewing claims that the state’s child welfare agency has been encrypting and routinely deleting its communications.

The practice was first reported by Searchlight New Mexico, a nonprofit investigative journalism group.

Republican lawmakers have asked for an investigation over transparency concerns.

Critics say the practice could hamper investigations into how the state cares for children.

The agency is defending the practice, saying it’s a way to protect against cybercrime as more work is done virtually amid the pandemic.