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Obama administration’s new proposal would erode strength of FOIA

The Sunlight Foundation has a rundown of new rules (PDF) the U.S. Department of Justice recently proposed for Freedom of Information Act requests. Key parts

Jul 31, 2020
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The Sunlight Foundation hasa rundown of new rules(PDF) the U.S. Department of Justice recently proposed for Freedom of Information Act requests.
Key parts of the proposal:
  • deny requests that aren’t addressed to precisely the correct department (16.3 (a))
  • summarily dismiss requests if they deem the wording too vague (16.3 (c))
  • automatically apply exclusions to FOIA whenever it can (16.4 (a))
  • be able to hide what part of the agency is responsible for filling requests (16.4 (e))
  • reset their deadlines for responses any time they refer requests among departments (16.5 (a))
  • make it more difficult for requests to be deemed urgent (16.5 (e))
  • insulate department heads from having to stand by denials (16.6 (d))
  • lie, and claim records do not exist, when they do (16.6 (f))
  • remove the ability for the courts to oversee how DOJ applies some exclusions (16.6 (f))
  • make it easier for businesses to declare that information is a trade secret (16.7)
  • be able to destroy records that might be responsive to FOIA requests (16.9)
  • ignore your request for information to be given in a specified format (16.9(a)(3))
  • disqualify most schools from getting FOIA fees waived (16.9(a)(4))
  • exclude new media from getting fees waived (16.10(a)(6))
  • make it easier to deny fee waivers (16.10(k)(2)(iii))
Other newsoutletshave mostly focusedon one aspect of the proposal, codifying the ability for a government agency to lie, or “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.”
Hajra Shannon

Hajra Shannon

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