writes: From The Washington Post's Lisa Rein comes news that the federal government is launching a six-month pilot program with seven agencies to post online documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act. That means that information requested (whether by a journalist, nonprofit group or corporation) asks for the records under FOIA, it's not the just the requester who will get to see the results, but also the public at large
What's the problem with that? For journalists whose province is the scoop, it could mean less incentive to go through the process of asking for the record in the first place. Washington Post Investigations Editor Jeff Leen says in the story that public posting could therefore "affect long-term investigations built on a number of FOIA requests over time." An excerpt offers a similar defense of documents being released only to the requesting party:
"FOIA terrorist" Jason Leopold has big issues with the approach. "It would absolutely hurt journalists' ability to report on documents they obtained through a FOIA request if the government agency is going to immediately make records available to the public," writes the Vice News reporter via e-mail. Leopold has already experienced the burn of joint release, he says, after requesting information on Guantanamo Bay. The documents were posted on the U.S. Southern Command's Web site. "I lost the ability to exclusively report on the material even though I put in all of the work filing the requests," he notes.
Another reason FOIA requesters might be annoyed by a general-release policy: filing FOIA requests isn't free