Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

D.C. program to examine impact of Reporters Committee case

The Collaboration on Government Secrecy will hold "Privacy Protection After Twenty Years Under Reporters Committee" from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 28, 2009, at American University Washington College of Law.
In 1989, in what arguably is the most significant Freedom of Information Act decision ever issued, the Supreme Court in Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press both broadened the concept of personal privacy and narrowed the definition of the “public interest” in disclosure.

This decision brought about nothing less than a sea change in privacy protection by radically altering the balancing process by which federal agencies decide whether to invoke the FOIA’s privacy exemptions -- leading to the withholding of greater amounts of information from the public.

Marking the 20th anniversary of this landmark FOIA decision, this program examines Reporters Committee’s full impact on government openness versus the protection of personal privacy and explores its continued viability with the passage of time.

Highlights of the agenda include:
  • A keynote address by Jane Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law Director at the University of Minnesota
  • Panel discussing the origin of the case, the formulation of the government's position and the unexpected breadth of the Supreme Court's decision
  • Panel analyzing the Supreme Court's novel "practical obscurity" concept for protecting personal privacy interests.
  • Luncheon address by Mary Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer for the Department of Homeland Security
  • Panel considering the Reporters Committee "core purpose" standard for determining a limited "public interest" that can be balanced in favor of disclosure
  • Panel reviewing the Reporters Committee's impact on FOIA administration, FOIA litigation and implementation of the Privacy Act of 1974
Register here.

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