EFF Releases Guide to Investigating Government Agencies

Oct 29th, 2006 | By | Category: Citizen Media, How to Podcast

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published information about how individuals can investigate government agencies. The Bloggers’ FAQ on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) outlines how to use open government laws to get access to records kept by federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”Online journalism makes a unique contribution to America’s vibrant culture of free speech,” said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. “Using the Freedom of Information Act is a powerful way to shed light on government activities and foster critical public debate about the discoveries.”

The guide walks bloggers through making a FOIA request — addressing what to ask for, which government offices must comply, and what you can and cannot obtain through FOIA. It also explains how to put requests on the fast track and get processing fees waived.

The guide is the most recent product of EFF’s FLAG Project, which uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government’s expanding use of technologies that invade privacy. Earlier this month, the FLAG Project filed lawsuits demanding that the FBI release records concerning the development of two electronic surveillance tools as well as information about the FBI’s “Investigative Data Warehouse” (IDW) — a huge database that contains hundreds of millions of entries of personal information.

“The FLAG Project investigates privacy-invasive tools and policies fostered by the government. There are many other important issues out there in which a blogger can make a difference,” EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel said. “Everyone has the ability through FOIA to discover government corruption, fraud and waste, and to publicize those abuses of power.”

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