Magazine article Information Management

DOJ Withdraws FOIA Proposal

Magazine article Information Management

DOJ Withdraws FOIA Proposal

Article excerpt


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently withdrew a revision to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) it had proposed that would have allowed federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records.

The rule would have allowed government agencies denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to tell requesters that the records do not exist, instead of citing the relevant exemption, according to media reports.

Anne Weismann, the chief counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), said the DOJ's proposal was an attempt to protect sensitive information about ongoing investigations. However, she said lying about the records "is an overbroad and improper response."

"The problem is, if you're a FOIA requester and the agency says they don't have the records, you have no reason to doubt that," said Weismann. "But if they cite an exemption, you have the option to sue."

Open-government groups criticized the proposal, first published last March. …

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