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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
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

Hajra Shannona is a highly experienced journalist with over 9 years of expertise in news writing, investigative reporting, and political analysis. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and has contributed to reputable publications focusing on global affairs, human rights, and environmental sustainability. Hajra's authoritative voice and trustworthy reporting reflect her commitment to delivering insightful news content. Beyond journalism, she enjoys exploring new cultures through travel and pursuing outdoor photography
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