Forum on Press Freedom: What we said

On July 24, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress held a forum on press freedom to examine recent threats and attacks against the media. Much of the discussion focused on the changing landscape in the media and attacks and threats from President Trump. Congress could take several steps to strengthen freedom of the press, we argued, including enacting a shield bill to protect journalists’ sources, a law to protect free speech against abusive libel [More]

Pentagon, FOIA Ombudsman, Benefits > Costs. It’s your FIRST Principles for July 17, 2017

This is your FIRST Principles Update July 17, 2017 DEFENSE WANTS STATUTORY EXEMPTION FOR TACTICS, TECHNIQUES, PROCEDURES AND RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. The Pentagon wants to keep secret the tactics, techniques and procedures that the military teaches soldiers so adversaries are not tipped off to the military’s thinking. Understandable, sure, but we’re working to ensure we can cover the military as an organization, a workplace, and a buyer of goods and services using taxpayer dollars. Go [More]

Pentagon (again) seeks help from Congress to keep tactics secret

Pentagon hopes Congress will protect tactics, techniques and procedures from disclosure. Military also seeks to protect rules of engagement. Public interest in disclosure could outweigh confidentality, but military gets to decide in Pentagon’s proposal. Defense Department is hoping the third time’s the charm as it once again asks for the authority to withhold from the public certain military tactics, techniques and procedures , the disclosure of which would give an adversary an advantage. The proposal [More]

Cosmetics manufacturing bill (H.R. 575) hides adverse events

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tx.) has introduced legislation that appears to allow cosmetics manufacturers to keep product complaints reported to the federal government secret. The legislation (H.R. 575), appears to allow the executive branch wide latitude to determine through regulation what agencies must require manufacturers to disclose publicly. “(g) List.—The Secretary shall compile and maintain an up-to-date and publicly available electronic list of cosmetics and ingredients for which statements are submitted under this section. A statement [More]

CFTC Reauthorization (H.R. 238) includes a FOIA exemption

Legislation approved on January 12 by the full House of Representatives to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (H.R. 238) contains an exemption to disclosure under federal FOIA for information CFTC may “asertain” regarding complicated trading structures known as commodity pools and client accounts. As introduced, the legislation required that the information be treated as investigative material. CFTC could publish aggregated information the disclosure of which would not identify “any person or firm, or such person’s proprietary information.” On its [More]

FOIA@50: Hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee (July 12, 2016)

A panel of witnesses told the Senate Judiciary Committee that technology and better records management were keys to improving the Freedom of Information Act. SGI Director Rick Blum pointed to several stories relying in part on FOIA that helped change government action or otherwise make an impact in communities. The hearing was a chance to celebrate enactment of the Freedom of Information Act Improvement, signed into law on June 30, 2016. Also testifying from the media perspective [More]

PRESS RELEASE: Media coalition celebrates President Obama signing of FOIA reforms into law as FOIA turns 50 on July 4

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 30, 2016 [Link to PDF version]   Media coalition celebrates President Obama signing of FOIA reforms into law as FOIA turns 50 on July 4  President Barack Obama’s signature on the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 marks a high point in the half century history of the federal Freedom of Information Act. “We are pleased to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the original Freedom of Information [More]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Media Coalition Applauds House Approval of FOIA Reforms

PRESS RELEASE                                                               Media coalition applauds House approval of FOIA reforms: House unanimous vote sends FOIA reforms to President’s desk ahead of FOIA’s 50th anniversary on July 4 The media associations in the Sunshine in Government Initiative applaud today’s House vote to approve the FOIA Improvement [More]

MEDIA ADVISORY: House to vote today on FOIA reforms

FOIA Improvement Bill Scheduled for House Vote Today House vote today could send FOIA reforms to president’s desk before FOIA’s 50th anniversary on July 4 [Media Advisory [pdf]] The U.S. House is scheduled to vote today on S. 337 (pdf), the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016. If approved, bipartisan reforms to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would go to the President’s desk for signature just days before transparency advocates celebrate the 50th anniversary of [More]