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August 29, 2015

Ruling Makes It Harder For U.S. To Charge High FOIA Fees To Media, Nonprofits
By Kevin Gosztola

Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse prevailed against President Barack Obama’s administration in July after the government tried to charge huge fees for records from DHS and ICE. The federal judge recognized they qualified as a news media representative. Ryan Shapiro, a renowned transparency researcher and FOIA specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has said, “The Freedom of Information Act is one of the most under-appreciated elements of the entire American experiment. The notion that the records of government are the property of the people, and all we need to do to get them is to ask for them, is radically democratic.” While there is great need for reform to FOIA to create enforcement mechanisms which force government agencies to comply with requests—and in a timely fashion, it remains an effective way for independent journalists and alternative media outlets to break major news stories. The fact that it is getting harder for the government to deny fee waivers is critical for the future of public interest journalism.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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