The Sunshine in Government Initiative strongly supports bipartisan legislation, S. 2520, to improve the way agencies process FOIA requests. Below is a letter SGI sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee supporting the bill.
Senator Charles Grassley is again poised — as soon as today, although the timing is far from clear — to present a broad exemption that would set a bad precedent for the administration of FOIA. We recently wrote about our temporary win. The proposal would exempt from disclosure the GPS coordinates of farms as well as basic contact information for owners and operators of farms and food processing facilities. Such entities are corporations, although Sen. Grassley and others are arguing that these locations are both businesses and individual residences, thus they deserve special privacy protections. We strongly believe that the [More]
Senator Patrick Leahy and open government groups have stopped at least for now the Grassley amendment that would bar disclosure of basic phone directory information for owners and operators of livestock and poultry processing facilities and farms. We explained our concerns about the provision quickly, other groups weighed in as well, and Senator Leahy’s worked diligently to explain the ramifications of this seeming milquetoast provision to his colleagues, and it became clearer that the proposal had problems. We appreciate the delay to afford open government groups the opportunity to work with Senators Grassley and Boxer to find a better approach [More]
(Updated 5/23/13 at 1:18pm) Corrected 5/23/13 at 1:30pm The full Senate is taking up the farm bill (S. 954), and one amendment three amendments (Amendment 970, 1011 and 1097) from Senator Charles Grassley contain nearly identical language that would eliminate basic “phone directory” information from disclosure, including the name, address, contact info (including email address), GPS coordinates and other identifying information of livestock owners and operators. They claim it’s a defense against domestic terrorism. The EPA in the last few weeks released such information under FOIA to one (or more) environment groups. That release was criticized by some in Congress. However, [More]
The reaction was swift when the Justice Department confirmed in a letter to Senators Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy that they would not move forward with their plan to say documents don’t exist when, in fact, they do. You can read the reaction through a simple Google search.
Today we’re happy to note the Justice Department is withdrawing its proposed rule to sanction responding to certain FOIA requests for law enforcement records as if records did not exist when, in fact, information does exist (but is out of FOIA’s reach).