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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION & TRANSPARENCY OF GOVERNMENT
Many governments have Freedom of Information laws or "open records" laws on the books, but there are often exemptions. And sometimes, "Freedom" doesn't mean "free." Additional stories may be found in the Freedom of the Press section.




NHS court battle over freedom of information
"THE Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, is being taken to court by the National Health Service in an attempt to keep controversial cancer statistics secret. This is the first legal challenge to Dunion, who has been overseeing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act since it came into force at the beginning of the year. The NHS says it has taken the action to protect patient confidentiality."
Full story - Sunday Herald
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Oct 3 08:31:22 EDT 2005



Judge orders release of Abu Ghraib photos
"A federal judge Thursday ordered the release of dozens more pictures of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib, rejecting government arguments that the images would provoke terrorists and incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq."
Full story - Twin Cities (reg. req.)
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Sep 29 20:41:45 EDT 2005



Government's secrecy culture blocks freedom of information
"THE operation of the Freedom of Information Act is in severe difficulties because of a mounting backlog of appeals against Government secrecy."
Full story - TimesOnline
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Sep 29 20:41:12 EDT 2005



EPIC Celebrates International Right to Know Day
"From www.epic.org: International Right to Know Day honors the global effort for openness in government. On this day in 2002, freedom of information organizations from around the world established the Freedom of Information Advocates Network."
Full story - EPIC Press Release
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Sep 28 15:13:13 EDT 2005



Public to get say on how state courts post records on Web
"The Pennsylvania court system is giving the public two months to comment on a draft set of rules that will determine how much of its records will be made available on the Internet. The proposal would give Internet users basic docket information about criminal cases, but would prevent them from seeing the names of victims, witnesses or jurors and would keep defendants' dates of birth and exact street addresses out of view."
Full story - Philly.com (reg. req.)
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Sep 22 12:20:05 EDT 2005



FEMA cites privacy in newspaper lawsuit for records
"Government lawyers said that the privacy of people who received emergency aid after the 2004 Florida hurricanes outweighs the public's interest in learning how the Federal Emergency Management Agency operated after those storms."
Full story - Pensacola News Journal
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Sep 20 09:25:09 EDT 2005



FoI does not apply, says V/Line (Australia)
"V/LINE is trying to hide sensitive documents about Victoria's troubled fast rail project by claiming the part of it that runs trains is not subject to freedom-of-information laws. The country rail operator claims V/Line Passenger Pty Ltd was established as a private company under corporations law and is not subject to FoI. It was taken over by the state in 2003 after National Express quit its Victorian train and tram operations."
Full story -The Age
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun Sep 18 10:26:44 EDT 2005



Free information suffers under business model
"South Carolina law allows public access to all non-sensitive state records at a reasonable cost, yet the S.C. State Ports Authority has obscured much of its conduct from the public eye by charging exorbitant fees for public documents."
Full story - Beaufort Gazette
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun Sep 18 10:06:25 EDT 2005



Post-9/11 secrecy: pervasive and dangerous (commentary)
"If you sort the millions of pages, documents and computer disks stamped secret by federal employees last year into stacks each as high as the Washington Monument, you would have a dozen or more monuments to government stonewalling obscuring the skyline of this nation's capital."
Full story - First Amendment Center
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Sep 12 14:09:44 EDT 2005



Right to know vs. right to privacy (viewpoints)
"Arizona has embraced two important and sometimes conflicting public policies: the right of access to public records and the right to privacy."
Full story - Arizona Republic
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Sep 10 19:31:40 EDT 2005



THE PRICE OF SECRECY
"During 2004, the Bush Administration issued more secret court orders, spent $148 creating new classified documents for every $1 spent releasing old ones, invoked the %91state secrets%92 privilege in court cases more frequently than ever before, and received 25 per cent more requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act."
Full story - opednews.com
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Sep 9 17:32:56 EDT 2005



Information watchdog opposes proposed merger with privacy czar
"OTTAWA (CP) - The federal information watchdog came out Thursday against the idea of merging his duties with those of the privacy commissioner, saying it could undermine the two offices... "In the single-commissioner model, it is certainly possible that one value - openness or privacy - would get preferential treatment," he told a conference on the Access to Information Act."
Full story - macleans.ca
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Sep 8 17:22:35 EDT 2005



Hearing requested in FEMA records case
"A federal judge is considering a request filed by The News-Press and two sister newspapers on Wednesday to hold a hearing and reach a decision in a lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency."
Full story - news-press.com
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Sep 8 11:49:39 EDT 2005



Court to Weigh Releasing Columbine Items
"Colorado's Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for next week on whether videotapes and diaries made by the Columbine High School gunmen can be released publicly. The parents of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris argue that the items are privately owned and not subject to a state open-records law. The Denver Post filed a lawsuit seeking public release in 2002."
Full story - The Ledger
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Sep 5 17:45:01 EDT 2005



Report: Secrecy expands, grows more costly for the government
"The government is withholding more information than ever from the public and expanding ways of shrouding data."
Full story - Daily Herald
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun Sep 4 19:37:07 EDT 2005



ACLU Requests Rape Victim Guidelines
"The American Civil Liberties Union is asking the Justice Department to release records that might explain why it doesn't advise hospitals to consider emergency contraception when treating rape victims. The group joined several family planning and abortion-rights groups Tuesday in submitting a Freedom of Information Act request relating to the first-ever national medical protocol distributed to state health departments last November."
Full story - SFGate
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Aug 30 16:31:22 EDT 2005



Secret MI6 agents have cover blown online
"The Foreign Office has slammed a privacy activist who has named online over 200 alleged UK spies and secret agents. New York-based activist John Young has named 276 alleged MI6 agents - including former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown - on his Cryptome website. The list claims Ashdown was an MI6 agent in Geneva in the 1970s."
Full story - Silicon.com
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Aug 30 08:41:51 EDT 2005



CDT editorial misguided, hypocritical (opinion)
"... What Penn State does not do is print the names of each employee with their corresponding salary. Yet you can compare what a professor in engineering earns compared with a professor in education. You can see what staff assistants make in university relations compared with staff assistants in student affairs. The only thing that we don't provide is professor Smith's name in relation to a particular salary."
Full story - Centre Daily
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Aug 25 09:10:38 EDT 2005



NASA Privacy Act of 1974 Privacy Act System of Records
"[Federal Register: August 23, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 162)] [Notices] [Page 49318-49319] From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:fr23au05-109. SUMMARY: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration proposes to establish a system of records titled "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Foreign National Management System." This system of records is to document, track, manage, analyze, and/or report on foreign access to NASA resources."
Full story - SpaceRef.com
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Aug 24 08:04:46 EDT 2005



County hires lawyer to fight new statute
"Boone County is one of five counties that will seek an injunction against the implementation of a law that requires the removal of public officials' personal information from the Internet. A section of Senate Bill 420 makes it illegal to post personal information about public officials online without the officials' written permission. Attorney David Shorr said he will ask for an injunction this week to prevent the law from taking effect Sunday."
Full story - Columbia Tribune
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Aug 23 16:25:09 EDT 2005



FOI Act requests mostly personal, study shows
"Requests for personal information dominate federal Freedom of Information Act activity, and FOI Act lawsuits filed by news media comprise fewer than 1 percent of FOI Act cases, according to examination of agency reports by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government."
Full story - RCFP
Submitted by Anonymous, Thu Aug 18 20:21:15 EDT 2005



Update in ACLU Torture FOIA Lawsuit (press release)
"Following a two-hour closed hearing in New York on August 15, a federal judge ordered the government to reveal blacked-out portions of its legal papers arguing against the release of images depicting abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib."
Full story - ACLU
Submitted by Anonymous, Tue Aug 16 16:23:04 EDT 2005



Judge to decide on release of new Iraq prison abuse photos
"A showdown is set for Monday in a New York federal court over the Defense Department's refusal to release a new batch of photographs and videos showing U.S. soldiers abusing detainees in Iraq."
Full story - Oxford Press
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Aug 15 10:47:10 EDT 2005



Japan: Family registry access to be tighter
"To protect personal privacy, the Justice Ministry is making family registers off-limits to the general public, sources said. Only certain categories of people will be granted access to the registers, including those actually listed in the registers, their relatives, lawyers and public servants."
Full story - asahi.com
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun Aug 14 11:03:30 EDT 2005



As long as access is at issue, what is Congress' excuse?
"As the Senate jousts with the White House over release of documents relating to Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr., Congress should seriously consider unlocking one of its own treasure troves of data. The continued refusal of Congress to routinely make available much of the work of the Congressional Research Service, a $100 million-a-year arm of the Library of Congress, is approaching the regions of indefensibility."
Full story - Houston Chronicle
Submitted by Anonymous, Sun Aug 14 02:48:33 EDT 2005



Privacy issue overblown
"There's no reason investigators who finally solved the Lynda Shaw murder can't officially release the killer's name, the provincial privacy watchdog said. Ontario's assistant privacy commissioner said yesterday he wouldn't object if the murderer is officially identified, a stance countering the OPP's insistence hours earlier that the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act prevents the release of the dead man's name."
Full story - London Free Press
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Aug 13 12:31:03 EDT 2005



Lifting veil on stories of 9/11 rescues
"More than 12,000 pages of often harrowing accounts and 15 hours of radio transmissions from emergency workers who rushed to the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, have been released."
Full story - The Age
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Aug 13 12:22:29 EDT 2005



U.S. Told Not to Release Abu Ghraib Photos
"Releasing photos and videotapes of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison would aid al-Qaida recruitment, weaken governments in Iraq and Afghanistan and incite riots against U.S. troops, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff warned in court papers. The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes taken at the prison as part of a lawsuit it filed in October 2003."
Full story - AP
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Aug 13 00:36:41 EDT 2005



Integrity trumps privacy
"This week's court decision granting public access to Portland police and fire disability files should, by rights, be the beginning of a new era of transparency in city government, but don't hold your breath. When it comes to this kind of real accountability, local governments here are notoriously slow learners."
Full story - Oregon Live (reg. req.)
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Aug 12 07:05:07 EDT 2005



F.D.A. Will Not Release Some Data on Heart Devices
"The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it would not release information that it receives annually from the makers of heart devices detailing how often and why products fail. The agency called such data a corporate trade secret."
Full story - NY Times (reg. req.)
Submitted by Anonymous, Sat Aug 6 12:13:08 EDT 2005



AU: Freedom from information
"Finally! Another media outlet has jumped in to back The Australian's freedom of information editor Michael McKinnon in his battles with bureaucrats over access to vital documents explaining the decision making process behind federal government policies. The "Freedom of Information Act may as well be scrapped," The Canberra Times has written in a blistering editorial:..."
Full story - Crikey
Submitted by Anonymous, Fri Aug 5 11:13:48 EDT 2005



New excuse to avoid public disclosure
"Consider the latest case of misapplied "privacy protection" in Dover, one that rightfully is headed to Superior Court. David Scott, a Dover resident, wants to know the names and salaries of city employees who earn more than $60,000 a year. His request has been turned down. City Attorney George Wattendorf says that its city policy not to reveal that information and the denial is "consistent with state statute regarding the privacy protections afforded personnel files.""
Full story - Nashua Telegraph
Submitted by Anonymous, Wed Aug 3 13:23:05 EDT 2005



Many adoptees seek access to birth records under new N.H. law
"CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The initial rush is past, but adults adopted as children continue to seek their original birth records since state law gave them access. When the law changed in January, 149 people requested their birth certificates in the first week. By the end of the month, the number hit 343."
Full story - Foster's Online
Submitted by Anonymous, Mon Aug 1 07:54:30 EDT 2005








Other resources on FREEDOM OF INFORMATION & TRANSPARENCY OF GOVERNMENT:
  • FirstAmendmentCenter: For Sunshine Week and every week: our FOI material
  • A citizens' guide to fighting secret government
  • Freedom of Information Around the World
  • India Right of Information Bill, 2004
  • How to File FOIA Requests




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