NFOIC’s FOI Friday for October 21 2011

A few items selected from many of interest recently.

Federal court rules that petition signers’ names can be made public

COLUMBIA, Mo. (October 21, 2011) — The Washington Coalition for Open Government and freedom of information advocates everywhere are celebrating a major victory in a case supported by the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Knight FOI Fund.

Monday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle granted the release of the names and addresses of Washington citizens who two years ago signed Referendum 71 petitions. The referendum was an attempt by Protect Marriage Washington to bring to a public vote the state’s newly-expanded domestic-partnership law that allowed same-sex couples the same health benefits provided to married, heterosexual couples. While the referendum passed, Washingtonians ultimately voted to keep the law intact.

When a gay-rights activist said he would reveal the names of the signers, Protect Marriage sued the state to block release of the names. Secretary of State Sam Reed was joined by the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG), a member of NFOIC, and Washington Families Standing Together in supporting the release of the records pursuant to the Washington Public Records Act.


See NFOIC's story for the rest.

Delaware's Gov. Markell calls for overhaul of state FOIA policies

Gov. Jack Markell signed an executive order [October 20] intended to simplify the process for Delaware citizens looking to access government documents through the Freedom of Information Act. … The executive order will require all executive branch agencies to adopt a standard policy for requests in order to streamline the process and make it less costly to the requester.

Visit for the rest.

Feds' social media use increases

Federal employees are increasingly turning to social media websites for work and personal use, particularly as more agencies lift restrictions on access, according to a new survey. The new Social Media in the Public Sector study, released Tuesday by Market Connections, found that just 19 percent of agencies ban access to some or all social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This is down sharply from 2010, when 55 percent of agencies banned access.

Visit Nextgov for the rest.

The state of open data 2011

What is the state of the open data movement? Yesterday, during my opening keynote at the Open Government Data Camp (held this year in Warsaw, Poland) I sought to follow up on my talk from last year's conference. Here's my take of where we are today (I'll post/link to a video of the talk as soon as the Open Knowledge Foundation makes it available).

Visit David Eaves for the rest.

Voice of the Free Press: Committee on fence about open government

A swift decision by a legislative committee to reject a new exemption to the state's public-records law is an encouraging sign for open government in Vermont. More worrisome is the decision by the same lawmakers to continue looking at restricting access to how much of a break homeowners get in state property taxes. The underlying issue in both cases is how much information taxpayers can get about how their money is being spent. Without transparency, there's no way to find out who benefits from state policies.

Visit Burlington Free Press for the rest.

Arkansas Attorney General McDaniel confident of reversal in FOIA challenge

Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was confident Thursday during a visit to Mountain Home that the state's Supreme Court will reverse a circuit judge's ruling against the criminal, punitive provisions of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Visit for the rest.