FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Corporations have targeted FOIA, says study from University of Arizona

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Businesses have worked to cut ‘public’s right to know’

By Mike Chesnick, Futurity, July 8, 2016

Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 so that citizens could have more access to public records and hold government accountable. Since then, less information has become available to the public about businesses, researchers report.

Jeannine Relly and Carol Schwalbe, both associate professors in the University of Arizona School of Journalism, analyzed 60 years of congressional testimony, finding that corporations lobbied to alter the scope of the FOIA.

“Though the FOIA is known as embodying the ‘people’s right to know,’ our research found that exceptions and exemptions to the law over time often favored the industries that lobbied heavily for information to be withheld,” Relly says.

Schwalbe says not receiving vital information through the press “reduces what the public learns about dangers to our health and safety, such as defective tires, bogus insurance policies, hazardous waste, and nuclear radiation.”

The researchers detail their findings in the journal Government Information Quarterly.

Read more here.