NFOIC's FOI Friday for February 17, 2012

February 17, 2012 1:13 PM

A few open government and FOIA news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier:

"Why I'm Suing the FBI, the DoD and the CIA"

Over the past year, I've filed dozens of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, and other government agencies in hopes of prying loose documents I need to support my investigative reporting efforts on a wide-range of issues and policies.

One of the frustrating realities about the FOIA process is the enormous backlog of requests government agencies have to contend with, which means many months or years could pass before my request is finally processed and I receive a response. However, a little-known FOIA provision allows requesters to seek an estimated date of completion from government agencies on their FOIA requests...

Visit TruthOut for the rest.

Cybersecurity Bill Threatens Public Access to Information, Accountability

Yesterday organizations concerned with open government and accountability released a letter expressing their concern with several sections of the recently-introduced Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and urging the Senate to delay voting on the bill until the issues have been carefully and thoroughly reviewed.

The letter cites provisions in the bill that create unnecessary, overbroad and unwise limitations to access of information, including broad exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and jeopardize the rights of whistleblowers.

Visit OpenTheGovernment.org for the rest.

Arkansas Police use of force records subject to FOI

Police records regarding the use of force by an officer are not exempt from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, the state Supreme Court said today in a ruling hailed as a victory for open government.

The high court affirmed a circuit judge’s ruling that the Little Rock Police Department could not refuse to release its use-of-force reports requested under the FOI law. The reports were requested by an attorney for Chris Erwin, who was struck several times by Little Rock police Lt. David Hudson during an arrest outside a Little Rock restaurant on Oct. 29.

Visit Arkansas News for the rest.

EPA, Commerce take lead in developing "FOIA Portal"

A buzz is growing in the federal Freedom of Information community about a new $1.3 million “FOIA Portal” under development and slated for launch this fall. Thursday we got a chance to look under the hood a bit, as part of a group organized by the Office of Government of Information Services.

Visit Investigative Reporting Workshop for the rest.

Conn. high court rules university can withhold trade secrets

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in University of Connecticut v. Freedom of Information Commission that a public entity could invoke the trade secret exemption in the state freedom of information act to shield its own records from being released.

Visit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for the rest.

FOI requests trigger DOT investigation

Outside investigators will conduct a probe of the planning, real estate and record-keeping practices of the Delaware Department of Transportation as a result of new signs of poor document security and unexplained gaps in key files potentially involving millions in taxpayer dollars.

The investigation was triggered by a series of Freedom of Information Act requests filed by The News Journal in recent months involving agency land deals and the involvement of political figures in certain highway projects that affect commercial interests.

Visit Delaware Online for the rest.