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First Meeting of the Federal FOIA Advisory Committee

Click "Read More" to scroll through our first-person account of the kick-off meeting of the federal FOIA Modernization Act Advisory Committee.

Groups Praise FOIA Improvement Act

On June 24th, Senators Leahy and Cornyn released the FOIA Improvement Act. outlined reasons why we strongly support he bill here. Excerpts from our partners' responses and links to news coverage and analysis are below. Welcomes Leahy-Cornyn Bill to Improve FOIA strongly supports the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, a bill introduced by longtime champions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy and Senator Cornyn. The bill addresses a number of issues that members of our coalition have identified as obstacles to the public’s ability to use the FOIA to get timely access to government records.

Cybersecurity Bill to Be Marked Up Includes New FOIA Exemption & Tie to Espionage Act

A cybersecurity bill from the leadership of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) is scheduled for markup on Thursday.

Civil Society Groups Issue Progress Report on 2nd US National Action Plan

According to the first civil society progress report on the implementation of the United States’ Second National Action Plan, the United States government appears to be on-course to meet the majority of its commitments six months into the implementation period. This report draws on the expertise and experiences of a wide range of civil society groups engaging on the commitments and features their knowledge of the Administration's efforts to meaningfully implement its commitments and to collaborate effectively with civil society.

Coalition Asks Senate to Fix USA FREEDOM and a large coalition of civil society groups wrote yesterday in a letter to the United States Senate that “unless the version of the USA FREEDOM Act that the Senate considers contains substantial improvements over the House-passed version, we will be forced to oppose the bill.”

Public Has Little Direct Access to Revisions Made to Supreme Court Decisions

What is the law of the land? It’s harder for the public to find out than it should be. and its partners have pushed hard against secret interpretations of the law, calling for Office of Legal Counsel memos, significant FISA court opinions, and more to be made available to the public.  An upcoming Harvard Law Review article by Richard J. Lazarus shows that the Supreme Court plays its own role in obscuring the law from the public, detailing how many Supreme Court opinions have been edited and altered after they were issued, largely outside public view. 

The Second Open Government National Action Plan, Six Months In

In the coming days, OTG and several partners and allies will publish an overview of the US government’s progress implementing the second National Action Plan (NAP). As you might remember, the government promised to take certain steps on a number of issues in the NAP, including making federal spending more transparent, freeing government data, modernizing the Freedom of Information Act, and more.

Fight for Transparency in Surveillance Reform Moves to the Senate

Now that the House has passed its version of a bill to reform our nation’s surveillance programs, OTG and our partners will be working to make sure that any similar legislation passed by the Senate includes much stronger transparency provisions. As we have written, the House opted to severely weaken reporting requirements in the original Sensenbrenner-Leahy proposal that would have given the public a reasonable understanding of the scope of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs. HR 3361 replaced them instead with potentially misleading reporting requirements that would likely allow vastly understating the scope of communications acquired or reviewed by the NSA.

Center for Democracy and Technology Testifies on Surveillance Reform

At a rare public Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing, the Center for Democracy and Technology detailed the need for lawmakers to address the weaknesses in the gutted USA Freedom Act passed by the House of Representatives.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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