UW Madison has responded to the Open Records Request regarding Professor Cronon (which I mentioned here). Here's a link to the Chancellor's message as well as the response from the UW-Madison legal counsel. Given the challenging situation the university finds themselves in, my impression (after a quick read of the documents) is that this is a reasoned response, attempting to uphold the principles of academic freedom while following the requirements of the law.
The issue of privacy of academic communications reminds me of the issues I've heard regarding evaluation letters (for promotions, including tenure cases) and confidentiality. For instance, I've had colleagues tell me they won't write promotion case letters for the UC's, because confidentiality is insufficiently protected there. Apparently candidates can request to see the contents of evaluation letters. I have written a letter to a UC for such a case, and their "Confidentiality Statement" was, I must say, uninspiring. In particular, I was told to put information regarding my relationship to the candidate "below the signature block"; apparently, when the candidate requests the contents of the letters, the letterhead, signature block, and information below the signature block is not revealed to protect the identity of the writer. That's clearly insufficient, I think, for any reasonable evaluation letter; it's hard to hide your relationship to someone in a well-written evaluation letters with that framework. I'm also not clear that it would protect confidentiality in various legal settings (but perhaps nothing would?). As I had only very nice things to say for the case in question I did not have any concerns, but if that wasn't the case, I might have had to think twice about writing, and I can understand why some would refuse to write letters to the UC on principle. (Perhaps someone from the UCs -- anonymously or otherwise -- would wish to comment on these policies.)
Now that I'm on the other side -- requesting letters as Area Dean -- I've seen that some people are very reluctant to write down honest appraisals of candidates, out of concern that information would be leaked somehow. It's a concern -- we do need open and forthcoming letters to help evaluate faculty accurately -- but it's clear that the issue of how that information is protected is one that will continue to challenge the academic community going forward.