Question: What Is The Purpose Of FOIA?

What is the Freedom of Information Act FOIA and why is it important?

Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency.

It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government..

What do you know freedom of information?

Get answers from the government and public sector You have the right to request information from any publicly-funded body, and get answers. WhatDoTheyKnow helps you make a Freedom of Information request. It also publishes all requests online.

What is the Freedom of Information Act and why is it important?

FOIA plays an important role in keeping government transparent and accountable, and has been used to expose a wide range of government misconduct and waste, along with threats to the public’s health and safety. While FOIA is intended to increase transparency, it doesn’t provide access to all government documents.

When can a FOIA be denied?

When information is withheld, whether partially or fully, this constitutes a denial under FOIA. If your request is partially denied, you will receive a document in which the information that is exempted from disclosure has been redacted. A request may be denied for one or more of the aforementioned exemptions.

Who is subject to a FOIA request?

FOIA covers records from all federal regulatory agencies, cabinet and military departments, offices, commissions, government-controlled corporations, the Executive Office of the President, and other organizations of the Executive Branch of the federal government. 5 U.S.C. § 552(f).

How can I get my immigration file?

To request immigration records from USCIS, file Form G-639, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request, is used to request an immigration file from USCIS. The application and instructions are available on the USCIS website.

How do you use the Freedom of Information Act?

If the information you want is not publicly available, you can submit a FOIA request to the agency’s FOIA Office. The request simply must be in writing and reasonably describe the records you seek. Most federal agencies now accept FOIA requests electronically, including by web form, e-mail or fax.

Are emails subject to FOIA?

Most federal agencies now accept FOIA requests electronically, including by web form, e-mail or fax. See the list of federal agencies for details about how to make a request to each agency and any specific requirements for seeking certain records.

What can you ask for in a FOIA request?

You can ask for any information you think a public authority may hold. The right only covers recorded information which includes information held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

What caused the Freedom of Information Act?

FOIA was originally championed by Democratic Congressman John Moss from California in 1955 after a series of proposals during the Cold War led to a steep a rise in government secrecy. Moss found support from newspaper editors and journalists, but he could not find Republican co-sponsors until years later.

Who can use FOIA?

Section 552. “Any person” can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organizations, associations, and universities. In 1974, after the Watergate scandal, the Act was amended to force greater agency compliance. It was also amended in 1996 to allow for greater access to electronic information.

How do you write a good FOIA request?

FOIA Tip No. 9: Writing a Good FOIA Request Part IIBe clear and specific. … Make sure your request is reasonable in scope. … Provide a date range for records or a date of the event you are researching. … Provide accurate titles and full names, and include any news stories discussing the subject of your request. … Keep your request brief.More items…•

What is subject to FOIA?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) generally provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information except to the extent the records are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.

How much does it cost to file a FOIA request?

By making a FOIA request, the requester shall be considered to have agreed to pay all applicable fees up to $25.00 unless a fee waiver has been granted. If the Department estimates that the search costs will exceed $25.00, the requester shall be so notified.

What is the difference between freedom of information and subject access request?

FOI is about providing access to public information. Data protection legislation protects personal data. It gives you the legal right to access information held about you (by making a Subject Access Request) and, in some cases, to prevent your personal information being seen, used or processed by other people.

Can you make a FOIA request to a private company?

The FOIA does not require a state or local government or a private organization or business to release any records directly to the public, whether such records have been submitted to the federal government or not.

What is FOIA used for?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides public access to all federal agency records except for those records (or portions of those records) that are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions or three exclusions (reasons for which an agency may withhold records from a requester).