FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: New technologies can improve agency search adequacy

FOIA Focus (2018)Ryan MulveyComment

Machine Learning Technology Can Help Agencies Handle New FOIA Request Standard

Jon Kerry-Tyerman, Law.com, Nov. 8, 2018

In October 2018, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper ruled that “FOIA requests are not a game of Battleship. The requester should not have to score a direct hit on the records sought based on the precise phrasing of his request.” In an opinion which cites Summers v. Department of Justice and Bagwell v. Department of Justice, Cooper ordered the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an additional search of agency records in response to the Government Accountability Project’s FOIA request. The judge ordered a new meet-and-confer within two weeks of the ruling to “engage in a good faith effort to arrive at a reasonably limited set of additional search terms that rectify the under-inclusivity of the ‘ideological tests’ and ‘cellphone’ search terms without being too over-inclusive.”

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