Freedom of Information Day!
Today is National Freedom of Information Day! This is a day to truly celebrate your freedom for the government to grant access to the information that happens “behind the scenes” at all government branches. . .
Freedom of information Day ! ! !
A Brief History:
What is the Act? While widely used by media, you or any U.S. citizen can take advantage of these same freedoms. While there is a formality, and also every different department has a different format to do so, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, generally provides any person with the statutory right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to government information in executive branch agency records. In all cases of government, if there is a breach in the act, it is enforced by the Office of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice is responsible for encouraging agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. The act is for public record, never private. . .The Act only covers public authorities. All acts in all states, especially on a federal level that is NOT covered by the Freedom of Information Act includes:
- Non-agency records and personal records.
- Public requests for access to physical artifacts or scientific samples (e.g. core samples, sediment, rocks, fossils, specimen samples, blood samples).
- Records covered under the scrutiny of the The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) act.
Every state has access on a statewide level. There are some exemptions that are presented for case by case review, for specific information if it goes to a court hearing, including:
- Private information, such as Social Security numbers, personal phone numbers and addresses, and other highly sensitive private information
- Personal information—information that a reasonable person would find highly objectionable if released; Note that sometimes a legitimate public interest in a record may outweigh personal privacy concerns in a particular case
- Drafts and “deliberative process” information
- Attorney-client privileged information
- Trade secrets/proprietary information
- Research materials/research data
- Course material
- Certain law enforcement records
- Contracts while under negotiation
Revision to the Act in Act of 1996: The act revision provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information except to the extent the records are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusion exemptions:
- Exemption 1: Information that is classified to protect national security.
- Exemption 2: Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
- Exemption 3: Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.
Origination: FOIA was originally championed by Democratic Congressman John Moss from California in 1955 after a series of proposals during the Cold War led to a steep a rise in unfounded government secrecy. Moss found support from editors of newspapers and also journalists, but he couldn’t find any Republican co-sponsors until years later.
Scope & Procedure: Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. The website Sample FOIA Request Letters – National Freedom of Information Coalition provides great resource and assistance with setting up your letter to provide to any agency, so that you are able to get the information you need, that you have full right to obtaining:Under the statute, federal agencies are required to respond to a FOIA request within twenty working days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. This period does not begin until the request is actually received by the component that maintains the records sought. States have their own rules, but need to have a law on each of the state’s book in regards to the freedoms.
A Few Facts:
I am sharing a few facts, and more, some trivia, some not trivial. . .
The following people and entities are able to launch a request through the FOIA:
- Companies. . .Including private, public, and corporate
- News media
- More. . .
Let freedom ring! Never take the word of an official if you feel as though information is either being withheld or if think that you are being given erroneous information.
We will NEVER, ever forget the name of the freedom for which the flag and the Statue of Liberty stands for!
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Freedom of Information Day