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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, February 08, 2011

Personal privacy and the right to know

from a New York Tmes editorial: --
For 45 years, the Freedom of Information of Act has invigorated American democracy by obliging the executive branch to make public a splendid range of documents. It serves the people’s right to know, while leaving out data whose disclosure could be harmful.

The law’s “exemption 7,” about facts gathered for law enforcement, omits records whose release could be “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Until now courts have unanimously agreed its purpose is to protect individuals. Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments about a case in which the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, decided “personal privacy” includes the privacy of corporations.

Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T addresses whether AT&T can prevent the F.C.C. from releasing documents about the company’s overbilling of the government. If the justices supported that interpretation, they would wreak havoc on the Freedom of Information Act. Fortunately, there’s little risk of that.
Read the rest here.

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