Freedom of Information Act

Freedom of Information Act (1966), law requiring that U.S. government agencies release their records to the public on request, unless the information sought falls into a category specifically exempted, such as national security, an individual's right to privacy, or internal agency management. The act provides for court review of agency refusals to furnish identifiable records. The states also have similar laws. The federal government and some states have also adopted so-called sunshine laws that require governmental bodies, as a matter of general policy, to hold open meetings, announced in advance. Presidential papers remained under the control of individual American presidents until 1981, when the Presidential Records Act—enacted by Congress in 1978—took effect. Under it, presidential papers were to be released to the public 12 years after an administration ended. In 2001, however, President George W. Bush signed an executive order that gave a former president or a sitting president the right to prevent the release of a former president's papers to the public. The G. W. Bush administration was also generally more reluctant to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Freedom of Information and the Right to Know: The Origins and Applications of the Freedom of Information Act
Herbert N. Foerstel.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Privatization and the Freedom of Information Act: An Analysis of Public Access to Private Entities under Federal Law
Feiser, Craig D.
Federal Communications Law Journal, Vol. 52, No. 1, December 1999
Exemption 7(D) of the Freedom of Information Act - the Evidentiary Showing the Government Must Make to Establish That a Source Is Confidential
Salzman, Matthew J.
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 84, No. 4, Spring 1994
Less Government, More Secrecy: Reinvention and the Weakening of Freedom of Information Law
Roberts, Alasdair S.
Public Administration Review, Vol. 60, No. 4, July 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Your Right to Privacy: A Basic Guide to Legal Rights in An Information Society
Evan Hendricks; Trudy Hayden; Jack D. Novik.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1990 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Part I "Collection, Access, and Control of Government Information"
Who Owns Information? From Privacy to Public Access
Anne Wells Branscomb.
Basic Books, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Who Owns Government Information?"
Relational Privacy Cases and Freedom of Information
Bunker, Matthew D.; Splichal, Sigman L.
Newspaper Research Journal, Vol. 18, No. 3-4, Summer-Fall 1997
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Bush Team Thumbs Its Nose at FOIA; the Bush Administration Has Taken a Hard Line against Releasing Government Records as Required by Law. Critics from the Left and the Right Are Responding with Lawsuits. (Nation: Freedom of Information Act)
Maier, Timothy W.
Insight on the News, Vol. 18, No. 15, April 29, 2002
Missed Information
Doyle, Michael.
The Washington Monthly, Vol. 32, No. 5, May 2000
The Information Squeeze: Openness in Government Is under Assault throughout the United States-At Every Level. Can the News Media, Reluctant Combatants Thus Far, Mount a Successful Counterattack?
Layton, Charles.
American Journalism Review, Vol. 24, No. 7, September 2002
Free Information
Jones, Harriet.
History Today, Vol. 50, No. 8, August 2000
Data Flowing Freely onto Info Highway
Leiter, Lisa.
Insight on the News, Vol. 12, No. 31, August 19, 1996
Mass Communication Law and Ethics
Roy L. Moore.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "The 1996 Freedom of Information Act" begins on p. 466
Foiled FOIA
Wicklein, John.
American Journalism Review, Vol. 18, No. 3, April 1996
Clinton, Reno, and Freedom of Information: From Waldheim to Whitewater
Woodbury, Marsha.
Social Justice, Vol. 22, No. 2, Summer 1995
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator