Coronavirus Exacerbates Backlogged FOIA Transparency Process
From The Washington Examiner:
The coronavirus is disrupting the nation’s already backlogged Freedom of Information Act process.
The FBI announced on Tuesday that, “due to the emerging COVID-19 situation, the FBI is not accepting electronic Freedom of Information / Privacy Act requests,” nor are they “sending out electronic responses” through their online portal until further notice. FOIA requests can still be mailed in. The FBI’s FOIA page apologizes for the “inconvenience.”
Katie Townsend, the legal director for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, called the bureau’s move “absurd.” “Especially at times like this, government transparency is essential to public trust, and agencies should be working to provide timely public access to records and information through FOIA,” she said in a tweet.
In an ironic twist, the FBI’s announcement came during Sunshine Week 2020, meant to highlight the importance of government transparency and honor the government’s FOIA professionals. Sunshine Week’s events were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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