Freedom of Information Act Gallery

In recognition of FOIA Day

March 16, 2002

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Post September 11th -- New Challenges to Open Government

September 11 transformed the national debate over government secrecy and public accountability. Government officials have removed public records from the Internet, restricted access to public documents, and attempted to hide the federal government behind a wall of secrecy. In response, EPIC has initiated a series of FOIA requests for information on proposals that will affect the freedom of Americans, including records on national ID systems, military use of biometrics for identification, transportation profiling systems, "trusted passenger" databases, and the deployment of a surveillance camera network in the Nation's Capital.

Documents Reveal More About FBI's Carnivore System

Law enforcement agencies are now developing new techniques to capture private communications on the Internet. Documents obtained by EPIC under the FOIA revealed that the US Army was also interested in the use of "Carnivore," an Internet monitoring system. Documents obtained earlier by EPIC demonstrating that Carnivore was far broader than announced led to a Congressional investigation.

Documents Reveal Efforts to Restrict Cyber Security Information

Central to the future of Internet security is the ability of the user community to assess the effectiveness of policies pursued by the government and the private sector. But some in government and industry hope to keep such critical information hidden from the public. In the summer of 2001 a law student in EPIC's Internet Public Interest Opportunities Program (IPIOP) obtained documents which revealed that the head of a government agency, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), had lobbied for a "cyber security" exemption to open government disclosure laws. The Advisory Committee itself is a source of many of the proposals that may be adopted by the federal government.

EPIC Seeks Documents Relating to Doubleclick Investigation

The Federal Trade Commission plays a central role in safeguarding the privacy rights of American consumers. But questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the agency. After the FTC closed its investigation of DoubleClick, a company which had tried to profile Internet users, EPIC's FOIA request led to the disclosure of documents that provided insight into the Commission's investigative process. Unfortunately, the FTC continues to withhold a substantial amount of material.

Law Enforcement Use of Private Sector Profiling Data

The Privacy Act of 1974 provides an essential safeguard for American citizens and prevents the creation of secret profiles. But in the last few years Federal law enforcement agencies have spent millions of taxpayers dollars to purchase databases from information brokers and circumvent the Privacy Act restrictions. These databases now provide desktop access to the details on the private lives of Americans. A FOIA request initiated by EPIC provides the first insight into the scope of this program.

NSA Surveillance Authority

When Congress passed the PATRIOT Act in response to September 11 it significantly expanded the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for electronic surveillance. These documents, concerning NSA's interception of communications and obtained by EPIC under the FOIA, included an official acknowledgement that "no NSA applications have been rejected by the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] in the past 10 years."

Former Secrets - Documents Previously Released Under FOIA

Public disclosure of this information improves government oversight and accountability. It also helps ensure that the public is fully informed about the activities of government. For examples of information and documents released pursuant to FOIA requests, see EPIC's Former Secrets Page and Cryptome.

FOIA Day 2001

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