Did Officials In Miami-Dade Illegally Wipe Out Cellphone Data?

Government officials in Miami-Dade County are coming under fire after allegedly wiping data from temporary phones used on an overseas trade mission.  

The "Miami Herald" reports data was deleted from 13 phones given to officials who spent about two weeks in China and Japan last month for a trip focusing on transit and infrastructure.  

The county says the phones were erased to protect against Chinese hackers, but Myriam Marquez, spokeswoman for Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the elected official who supervises the IT department and led the trade mission, described the "wiping" of the data as a mistake. 

It was discovered after the Miami Herald requested text messages from the county employee who organized the March 13-27 trip. 

Marquez says the information should have been preserved in a safe place first.  

Free speech advocates say wiping the phones without backing them up could be a violation of the public-records law.

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