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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Federal Employee Salaries and Locations: You Can't Have It...

In a simply stunning federal FOIA decision, a U.S. District Court judge has sided with the government, buying wholesale the "a terrorist somewhere, in some cave, is doing voluminous research on the location of federal employees..." argument...

A judge says the federal government can legally withhold the names, salaries and positions of more than 900,000 federal employees from a Syracuse University agency that for years has made the information public.

Chief U.S. District Judge Norman Mordue determined the privacy rights of the employees could be compromised by release of the information to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC. The judge also agreed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the release of certain information could compromise national security.

"It's a bad decision. It flies in the face of 220 years of federal history," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "Who is employed by the federal government and what they make has never been kept a secret in this country, unless you're a covert operative. This is an example of privacy interests running amok."

People, you have NO idea how revolutionary an idea this is. The story also contained this little nugget:

The federal government began publicly naming its employees and releasing the related information in 1816.
Where does the secrecy end if the courts buy arguments like this?

More here.

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