FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: White House to stop voluntary release of visitor logs

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

White House Says It Will No Longer Release Visitor Logs To The Public

By Merritt Kennedy, NPR, Apr. 14, 2017

The Trump administration says it will not make public the names of those visiting the White House, reversing the Obama administration's policy.

White House communications director Michael Dubke said in a statement that the decision was due to the "the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually," NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

Dubke added that the logs would be disclosed "as outlined under the Freedom of Information Act." FOIA does not apply to the president or his immediate staff.

Read more here.

FOIA News: FOIA suit seeks unobtainable encrypted messages

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Suing to See the Feds’ Encrypted Messages? Good Luck

By Andy Greenberg, Wired, Apr. 12, 2017

The recent rise of end-to-end encrypted messaging apps has given billions of people access to strong surveillance protections. But as one federal watchdog group may soon discover, it also creates a transparency conundrum: Delete the conversation from those two ends, and there may be no record left.

The conservative group Judicial Watch is suing the Environmental Protection Agency under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking to compel the EPA to hand over any employee communications sent via Signal, the encrypted messaging and calling app. In its public statement about the lawsuit, Judicial Watch points to reports that EPA staffers have used Signal to communicate secretly, in the face of an adversarial Trump administration.

Read more here.

FOIA News: OGIS Releases New FOIA Handout

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

New OGIS Handout Available

Nat'l Archives & Records Admin., The FOIA Ombudsman, Apr. 12, 2017

It will come as no surprise to our regular readers when we say that the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 has resulted in substantial changes to OGIS’s operations. As we have talked about in a few blog posts, OGIS now has an expanded role in providing dispute resolution throughout the FOIA process. The amendments have also strengthened our mandate to review agency FOIA compliance and to identify strategies to improve compliance.

[. . .]

To better explain OGIS’s role in the process, and the types of assistance that we can offer requesters, we have published a new handout. The handout, which is available on the OGIS Toolbox in the Resources section of our website, clearly describes Who We AreWhat We Do, and how to get in contact with us.

Read more here.

FOIA News: MuckRock announces "FOIA March Madness" winner

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

FOIA March Madness 2017: And the winner is …

MuckRock wraps up its 2nd Annual FOIA fight to the finish

By Beryl Lipton, Muckrock, Apr. 12, 2017

For the last month, 64 federal government Freedom of Information Act agencies have been waging noble battle for the title of Most Responsive Agency 2017. It’s been four weeks of phone conversations, follow ups, and frustratingly close calls, and now we’re ready to announce the champion of this year’s match-up.

But first, a few things.

Read more here.

FOIA News: New FOIA lawsuit demands White House visitor logs

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

New suit demands Trump White House visitor logs

Josh Gerstein, Politico, Apr. 10, 2017

A new lawsuit is demanding that a log of visitors to the White House and to President Donald Trump's homes in New York and Florida be released to the public.

The suit, set to be filed Monday in federal court in New York, contends that the Secret Service is in violation of the law by failing to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests for details on visitors to the White House and other locations where Mr. Trump has spent time since taking office.

Read more here.

Q&A: Border Crossings

Q&A (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

Q:  I am a permanent resident.  How can I request records documenting my arrival and departure to and from the United States for each time I've traveled outside the country?

A.  Records concerning entry and exit from the United States after 1982 are available through the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") agency.  Further information about how to submit a FOIA request to CBP is available here or through FOIAOnline.  Please remember that you'll need to provide enough information (e.g., date of birth, alien number, etc.) to establish your identity.  This will help the agency to locate your records and also satisfy its obligations under the Privacy Act.  If you still have questions, consider calling the CBP FOIA Office at (202) 325-0150 (Mon. - Fri., 8am - 5pm EST). 

FOIA News: BuzzFeed Sues the FBI Over Andrew Breitbart Records Request

FOIA News (2017)Kevin SchmidtComment

BuzzFeed Sues the FBI Over Andrew Breitbart Records Request

By Tim Kenneally, The Wrap, April 9 , 2017

BuzzFeed wants some answers from the FBI about deceased conservative media figure Andrew Breitbart — and it’s willing to sue to find out.

BuzzFeed and journalist Jason Leopold have filed a complaint against the FBI, claiming that the bureau hasn’t done everything it can to answer their request for information on Breitbart.

The complaint, filed Friday in federal court in California, says that Leopold filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for “all records related to Andrew Breitbart” on Aug. 7, 2012, a few months after Breitbart died at age 43.

Read more here.

FOIA News: Watchdog calls on Trump to fulfill Obama-era FOIA requests

FOIA News (2017)Kevin SchmidtComment

Watchdog calls on Trump to fulfill Obama-era FOIA requests

By Todd Shepherd, Washington Examiner, April 7, 2017

A free-market watchdog is calling on President Trump to release documents that were sought under the Freedom of Information Act requests that were blocked during the Obama administration, and in particular wants Trump to release documents related to the policies he's thinking about overturning.

Chris Horner is a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank, which advances "limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty." Horner argues that if the Trump administration is as focused on overturning Obama-era rules and regulations as it has promised to be, it only makes sense that the government release documents showing how those rules were created in the first place.

"Before Trump spends one more dime of our money on these initiatives, he should require his appointees ensure a prompt review of what has been denied to the public on key [Obama] administration priorities," Horner said.

Read more here.