As legacy media cuts back on FOIA, digital-only news outlets step in

Ask any journalist and they’ll tell you the Freedom of Information Act process is broken. Denials are at record highs, navigating the bureaucracy can be a nightmare, and the federal agencies recently killed a modest reform bill. But a series of FOIA lawsuits also have just shown how the 50-year-old transparency law can still be indispensable. And absent any change in the law, the best way for news organizations to make sure it stays relevant is to use it innovatively and aggressively.

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College of DuPage fighting FOIA suit

In September and October of 2014, and December of 2013, several Freedom of Information Act requests were denied by the College of DuPage FOIA Officer. After several failed attempts at asking them to provide the public records they were bound by law to provide, we decided it was time to file suit in DuPage County Circuit Court.

These requests consisted of public records concerning “Broadcast Technologies” and the W-2 Form for COD President Breuder.

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Homeland Security stiffs Times reporters

From Courthouse News Service: MANHATTAN (CN) – Two New York Times reporters sued the Department of Homeland Security for records on their interrogations at JFK Airport this year.

The DHS claims the records do not exist, though one reporter claims his interview was entered on a computer.

Mac William Bishop and Christopher Chivers sued the Department of Homeland Security in Federal Court.

Both filed FOIA requests for information about their questioning at the airport; both were brushed off.

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ACLU and Center for Popular Democracy file FOIA lawsuit over efforts to limit municipalities’ foreclosure prevention options

Press release from ACLU: SAN FRANCISCO – The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Popular Democracy today filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to provide details about the agency's relationship with the financial industry and its efforts to block municipalities from using eminent domain to prevent foreclosures.

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CIA cleared on answer to telepathy FOIA demand

From Courthouse News Service: SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – The CIA properly handled a man’s demand for records on his 1966 interrogation regarding telepathy and espionage, a federal judge ruled.

Phillip Mosier had sued the agency in San Francisco under the Freedom of Information Act last year, but his case was removed this past April to the Eastern District of California.

The complaint is sparse on details about the nature of the CIA’s alleged interview with him nearly 50 years ago in Lebanon, Mo.

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Media outlets push FISC for info on secret government surveillance

From Courthouse News Service: WASHINGTON (CN) – The once-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has mishandled demands to reveal the government's attempted justifications of its program of collecting the call and email data of Americans, a media coalition said.

Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press filed the amicus brief with the FISC, just before Thanksgiving last week, alongside Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Courthouse News Service and 21 other media organizations.

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California Supreme Court rejects Voice of OC and Californians Aware public records case

From Voice of OC: The state Supreme Court has rejected a request by Voice of OC and open-government advocates Californians Aware to review a gag order Orange County government leaders imposed on themselves so they wouldn’t have to release information regarding allegations of sex abuse by a top county official.

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EFF: FBI should release surveillance justification document

From PC World: The Federal Bureau of Investigation should make public a legal opinion it used to justify a past telephone records surveillance program because other agencies may still be relying on the document for surveillance justifications, the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued in court Tuesday.

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