NFOIC, Knight FOI Fund support efforts to release COVID data, county credit card details

The National Freedom of Information Coalition in October 2021 awarded two grants from the Knight FOI Fund in support of litigation to release public records.  In Florida The Florida Center for Government Accountability, the NFOIC’s newest member, was awarded a $5,000 grant to support its lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health, which has stopped…

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Letter, signed by NFOIC, urges New York governor to publish COVID data

Ten open government groups, including the National Freedom of Information Coalition, signed a Sept. 7, 2021, letter urging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to publish COVID-19 data. “Publishing COVID data in a tabular, downloadable, machine-readable format would help restore trust in state government and help researchers, journalists and the public to better understand the dire…

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No, those Fauci emails weren’t leaked; Yes, they were obtained using FOIA

After several media outlets published thousands of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails, some public figures claimed the emails had been “leaked.” The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News say they used the Freedom of Information Act to request and obtain the emails of the White House’s chief medical adviser. Niquelle M. Allen, the director of the District…

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New England coalition supports Massachusetts bills to keep remote access to public meetings

The New England First Amendment Coalition testified June 2, 2021, in support of Massachusetts legislation that would preserve the ability of people to attend public meetings either remotely or in-person. “The legislation will make permanent one of the few silver linings of the ongoing pandemic: remote access to public meetings and the increased engagement between…

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Texas legislators pass transparency bills, but open government work remains unfinished

Texas lawmakers approved two transparency measures to ensure greater access to public records after some governments closed off information during the COVID-19 pandemic.   “We are certainly glad lawmakers made these important improvements to Texas open government laws,” said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “And a number of legislators…

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Florida clamps down on COVID-19 records, taking a ‘so sue me’ attitude, transparency advocates say

Records requesters seeking information about COVID-19 in Florida face long delays and large fees. “But perhaps more worrisome, we’re often hearing that some agencies will stonewall, fail to respond, and provide nothing, for months,” said Pam Marsh, president of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida. “It’s basically a ‘so sue me’ kind of attitude, daring…

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Reinvent Albany, NFOIC, others urge full transparency regarding COVID-19 in New York

Several organizations, including the National Freedom of Information Coalition and NFOIC member Reinvent Albany, in March wrote a letter urging New York leaders to provide full transparency about the COVID-19 emergency and the state’s response. “We are fully aware that the state’s response to the COVID-19 emergency has become controversial, and we are not calling…

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California coalition sues county for access to COVID-19 data

The California-based First Amendment Coalition has sued a county in the state for violating California’s Public Records Act. Ventura County officials have refused to disclose information about COVID-19 deaths and about outbreaks at businesses and other non-residential settings. “It’s troubling that government officials would so blatantly disregard their transparency obligations at a time when people…

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New York Times shares its story of using open-records laws to track COVID-19 and racial inequalities

In an April 14, 2021, article, The New York Times shares insights on its use of open-records laws to gain information on COVID-19 cases. Editors say using state and federal FOI laws has allowed the Times to provide a comprehensive look at coronavirus cases nationwide, and has revealed racial inequalities regarding who has faced the…

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Wisconsin court says business group cannot block COVID-19 data

A Wisconsin appeals court panel on Monday, April 5, ruled that a business association cannot stop the state health department from releasing data about businesses linked to COVID-19 cases. The state’s Supreme Court still could prevent the release of the records, if it takes the case. The National Freedom of Information Coalition had signed an…

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