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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.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Reporters Committee lauds another win for openness in Supreme Court

from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:
Washington, D.C. — The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press lauded today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in another decision favorable to open government, this time ruling that the Navy’s use of a Freedom of Information Act exemption for records regarding internal agency personnel rules and practices was improperly invoked to deny the release of maps and charts.

“For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court has reinforced the public's right to get valuable information held by the government through the Freedom of Information Act,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “The government's interpretation of the ‘High 2’ exemption was tortured, at best, and once again the Court relied on a common sense approach to government transparency.”

Last week, the court ruled that AT&T could not use a FOIA exemption related to “personal privacy” to prevent the Federal Communications Commissions from releasing records about the corporation.

The Reporters Committee and 19 news organizations filed an amicus brief last September in Milner v. Department of the Navy cautioning against the “erroneous” expansion of FOIA Exemption 2 with so-called “High 2” information that includes more than basic personnel rules and records.

“Exemption 2 by its plain language exempts only those materials ‘related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.’ However … it has been expanded by agency interpretation and adopted by lower courts to over time cover more than just trivial matters of internal procedure to also include almost any record whose disclosure could enable some unidentified party to commit a hypothetical crime at some undefined future time,” the media brief noted.
Read the rest here.

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