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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

When FOIA Goes to Court: 20 Years of Freedom of Information Act Litigation by News Organizations and Reporters

“In 2020, news organizations and individual reporters filed 122 different Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits to compel disclosure of federal government records—more than any year on record according to federal court data back to 2001 analyzed by the FOIA Project. In fact, the media alone have filed a total of 386 FOIA cases during the four years of the Trump Administration, from 2017 through 2020. This is greater than the total of 311 FOIA media cases filed during the sixteen years of the Bush and Obama Administrations combined. This report focuses on news media “FOIA litigants” (a.k.a. “FOIA plaintiffs”). These include both traditional news organizations and alternative news sources when their primary purpose is to be a news source. The FOIA Project’s analysis found that since January 1, 2001, the news media has filed a total of 697 separate FOIA cases in federal court. Looking at these cases reveals 374 distinct plaintiffs, 117 news organizations and 257 individual reporters. A few key FOIA litigators rise to the top. The top ten filers make up less than three percent of all plaintiffs, yet they accounted for 281 of the 697 FOIA cases-40 percent of the total suits filed. To view the list of ‘Top 10’ FOIA litigators as well as a more expansive list of rising stars in the FOIA litigation community, view the FOIA Project’s full report at the link below. Using the FOIA Project’s unique dataset of FOIA cases filed in federal court, this report provides unprecedented and valuable insight into the rapid growth of media lawsuits designed to make the government more transparent and accountable to the public. The complete, updated list of news media cases, along with the names of organizations and reporters who filed these suits, is available on the News Media List at FOIAProject.org.”

The Capitol Riot: Documents You Should Read (Part 1)

“The Pentagon’s timeline of its response to the January 6, 2021 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol features multiple discrepancies with the public record, while the first federal indictment of mob participants details the specific legal charges that likely will be brought against others, according to the documents in the National Security Archive’s first “January… Continue Reading

The Capitol riot and its aftermath makes the case for tech regulation more urgent, but no simpler

TechCrunch: “Last week and throughout the weekend, technology companies took the historic step of deplatforming the president of the United States in the wake of a riot in which the US Capitol was stormed by a collection of white nationalists, QAnon supporters, and right wing activists. The decision to remove Donald Trump, his fundraising and… Continue Reading

COVID-19, Death Records and the Public Interest: Now is the Time to Push for Transparency

Sanders, A. K. (2020). COVID-19, death records and the public interest: Now is the time to push for transparency. Journal of Civic Information, 2(4), 1-22. “As the U.S. has grappled with COVID-19, the government has resisted repeated requests to follow open records laws, which are essential to transparency. Current efforts to reduce access to death… Continue Reading

YouTube’s Copyright Filter Is Crushing Video Critique And It’s Getting Worse

Gizmodo – “YouTube’s copyright filter is a labyrinthine nightmare called Content ID. Content ID works by scanning all the videos on YouTube and comparing them to a database of material submitted by copyright holders—often music labels and movie and TV studios—which have been given the ability to add things to the database by YouTube. Once… Continue Reading

A journalist’s guide to using RCFP’s legal hotline

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: “As reporters across the country covered the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests this past summer, the free legal hotline for journalists operated by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press saw a huge spike in usage, reflecting journalists’ demand for legal guidance during one… Continue Reading

How can I find out which company makes my generic drug?

Katherine Eban – investigative journalist, Vanity Fair contributor and Andrew Carnegie fellow (also see her TEDMED Talk here). “A: Typically, the manufacturer name will be listed on the pill bottle’s dispensing label. However, this isn’t always the case. If you can’t find the name of the manufacturer on the packaging, call your pharmacist and ask… Continue Reading

Archive, Historians, CREW Sue White House, Seek to Preserve Presidential Records During the Transition

National Security Archive – “The National Security Archive, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the American Historical Association, and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington today filed suit against President Donald Trump in his official capacity, seeking to enforce the Presidential Records Act and prevent any destruction of records during the… Continue Reading

Rep. Johnson’s Bipartisan Bill Making Federal Court Records Free to Public Passes House

“Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, today announced The Open Courts Act of 2020, H.R. 8235, which would modernize the federal judiciary’s court records systems and eliminate the paywall (called PACER) that currently forces the public to pay more than $140 million each year to access… Continue Reading

A Political Obituary for Donald Trump

The Atlantic –  The effects of his reign will linger. But democracy survived. “To assess the legacy of Donald Trump’s presidency, start by quantifying it. Since last February, more than a quarter of a million Americans have died from COVID-19—a fifth of the world’s deaths from the disease, the highest number of any country. In… Continue Reading

Lawmakers are trying to create a database with free access to court records. Judges are fighting against it.

Washington Post – “Leaders of the federal judiciary are working to block bipartisan legislation designed to create a national database of court records that would provide free access to case documents. Backers of the bill, who are pressing for a House vote in the coming days, envision a streamlined, user-friendly system that would allow citizens… Continue Reading