Privacy Act

New D.C. bodycam policies too restrictive, critics testify

Soo Rin Kim | Freedom of Information | News | October 29, 2015
October 29, 2015

Open-government advocates warned District of Columbia officials last week that exemption of all police body-worn camera footage showing "assaults" will undermine the very purpose of the program, as will other provisions designed to delay or deny the release of footage to the public.

The discussion came at a D.C. Council committee's public hearing to discuss three proposed amendments regarding the Metropolitan Police Department’s bodycam program.

The debate centered on how to balance transparency and privacy concerns and whether police body-worn camera recordings should be granted special treatment outside the existing D.C. Freedom of Information Act.

“It is our view that body camera footage is just another public record in simply different format,” said Rebecca Snyder, the President of Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Press Association President.

Montana shield law expanded to forbid government subpoenas of third-party records

Soo Rin Kim | Reporter's Privilege | News | October 22, 2015
October 22, 2015

With new amendments to the state shield law, journalists in Montana will not have to worry about electronic communications services turning over reporters's records to the government.

House Bill 207, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, "prohibits government bodies from requesting or requiring disclosure of privileged news media information from services that transmit electronic communications."

The bill was signed into law in April and took effect on Oct. 1 as an amendment to the existing Montana shield law, known as the "Media Confidentiality Act."

Medicare injunction lifted, potentially opening access to reporters

Amy Zhang | Freedom of Information | News | June 4, 2013
June 4, 2013

The public may be able to more closely scrutinize the multi-billion dollar federal Medicare program after a judge last week lifted a 33-year-old injunction that barred access to the healthcare program's records.

Federal appellate court allows former prosecutor to investigate Detroit newspaper's government source

Amanda Simmons | Reporter's Privilege | News | June 27, 2012
June 27, 2012

A federal appeals court allowed a former Detroit prosecutor to continue investigating the identity of a source who leaked information about an internal ethics probe against him to a Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper reporter. The decision, which was released Friday, overturns a district court’s ruling that threw out the case last year and now leaves a newspaper vulnerable to investigations eight years after a U.S. Department of Justice insider leaked information to the reporter.

OGIS releases FOIA recommendations amid Senate pressure

You-Jin Han | Freedom of Information | News | April 25, 2012
April 25, 2012

The Office of Government Information Services issued its recommendations for policy changes to the federal Freedom of Information Act yesterday, more than a year after it submitted a draft version to the Office of Management and Budget in February 2011 for review.

U.S. Supreme Court rules emotional distress damages not available under Privacy Act

Rachel Bunn | Privacy | News | March 30, 2012
March 30, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that a plaintiff cannot collect damages for emotional distress for government violations of the federal Privacy Act.

Ohio high court orders partial release of toxicity records

You-Jin Han | Freedom of Information | Feature | January 20, 2012
January 20, 2012

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that with respect to agency records related to lead poisoning, only portions that do not have “personal identifying information” can be released under the Ohio Public Records Act.

DEA agent fails to prove viral video violated Privacy Act

Rachel Bunn | Privacy | Feature | January 18, 2012
January 18, 2012

The disclosure of a video showing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officer accidentally shooting himself in the leg during a lecture to community youths does not violate the federal Privacy Act, a U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday. The court also rejected the officer's claim for invasion of privacy under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Supreme Court looks at role of damages in privacy violation

Jamie Schuman | Freedom of Information | Feature | December 1, 2011
December 1, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday on whether a plaintiff who alleges emotional injuries but has no monetary loss can collect damages after the government intentionally releases personal information protected under the Privacy Act.

Judge denies request to force OSHA to withhold records

You-Jin Han | Freedom of Information | Feature | September 20, 2011
September 20, 2011

A federal court in Florida refused to order the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withhold videos and photographs depicting a SeaWorld trainer’s death, explaining that it would not intervene before the agency reached a decision regarding the release of the materials.