EPIC to Congress: FOIA Critical to Homeland Security Oversight
October 18, 2019
EPIC has told a House committee that the Freedom of Information Act is critical to keep the Department of Homeland Security accountable. The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing this week on "The Public’s Right to Know: FOIA at the Department of Homeland Security.” EPIC has brought many FOIA cases against the DHS, including those concerning backscatter x-ray devices in airports, a DHS program to track journalists, and the CBP biometric entry-exit system. In 2011, EPIC urged Congress to end the agency’s political review of FOIA requests. In 2012, EPIC led an effort to reform the DHS treatment of fee wavers. And in 2016, the DHS revised FOIA regulations, reflecting several of EPIC’s recommendations. In comments this week, EPIC observed that DHS’s FOIA processing does not compare favorably with other federal agencies. EPIC recommended that DHS improve the processing of FOIA requests and respond to appeal authorities. EPIC wrote that continued oversight of the DHS is critical. "No federal agency has greater budget authority to develop systems of surveillance directed towards U.S. residents,” EPIC said.