Federal Agency Information
The threat to government openness and information access has been heightened due to a subtitle in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which had gone relatively unnoticed. Title VIII, Subtitle I deals with "Information Sharing" and establishes procedures for sharing "homeland security" information among federal, state and local authorities.
The Critical Infrastructure Information (CII) policy provides secrecy, civil immunity, preemption of state and local disclosure laws, and protection from whistleblowers to corporations that voluntarily submit information on infrastructure vulnerabilities. DHS developed CII guidelines as mandated in the Homeland Security Act Section 214 amidst controversy. The final rule contains the highly criticized provisions, as well as some very troubling additions that broaden the overall scope of the rule.
A strong right of access to government information is a key component of an accountable government. In the simplest sense, accountability is being answerable for performance or results. Much of the public's trust rests upon the government being openly accountable for its decisions, actions and mistakes. When the government operates in secret or refuses to disclose information to the public, it is in essence stripping the public of its ability to oversee and hold the government accountable.