The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has launched a beta of the FOIA Wiki (www.foia.wiki), a collaborative and evolving digital resource on the federal Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA Wiki is part legal guide, part community space for sharing information that aims to serve as a central hub on all manner of issues surrounding FOIA as the law celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Using a “wiki” format to encourage contributions from different persons and organizations, the FOIA Wiki includes explanations of FOIA’s provisions and exemptions, provides places for reporters and members of the public to share strategies and tips, and intelligently categorizes information about caselaw and federal agencies to promote the “right to know.” It complements the Reporters Committee’s existing public records guides, such as the Open Government Guide and will evolve alongside changes to the statute and court cases interpreting it.
“This is an exciting first step towards creating a powerful, community-based FOIA resource,” said Adam Marshall, the Knight Foundation Litigation Attorney at the Reporters Committee. “Bringing together the expertise of reporters, the open government community, and everyone who is passionate about FOIA benefits all of us who rely on this law to hold the government accountable.”
Katie Townsend, the Reporters Committee’s Litigation Director, said the FOIA Wiki will “make it easier for people interested in government transparency, including journalists and lawyers, to stay up to date on the latest developments in FOIA.”
Features of the FOIA Wiki include:
- Pages on all aspects of FOIA, including exemptions, fees, and administrative issues. Thanks to a collaboration with the FOIA Project at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), most of these pages automatically display a list and summaries of all recent federal district court cases on the page’s topic, as well as including links to the full text of those opinions on the FOIA Project’s website.
- A forum where users can post questions and answers about FOIA, as well as discuss problems or thoughts regarding particular records or agencies.
- Entries on federal agencies, departments, and sub-components, which include contact information, links to FOIA regulations, and more. With the assistance of Muckrock, these agency pages pull in real-time statistics from people making requests via Muckrock’s services, including the agency’s average response time, the percentage of requests that incur fees, and the average success rate of requesters. Agency pages also link to the corresponding page in FOIA Mapper, a resource that details the agency’s information systems, helping requesters specify where agencies are likely to have responsive records. Finally, the agency pages also pull in the latest district court opinions from the FOIA Project, so users can see what has been happening in caselaw specific to that agency.
- The full text of the FOIA, updated to include the 2016 amendments.
Anyone may access the FOIA Wiki, but a free account is necessary to make modifications. An account can be created by visiting this link or following the link on the top left corner of each page.
For additional information about the FOIA Wiki, please contact Adam Marshall at amarshall [at] rcfp.org, or post a question in the FOIA Wiki Forum.
About the Reporters Committee
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was founded by leading journalists and media lawyers in 1970 when the nation’s news media faced an unprecedented wave of government subpoenas forcing reporters to name confidential sources. Today it provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists. Funded by corporate, foundation and individual contributions, the Reporters Committee serves the nation’s leading news organizations; thousands of reporters, editors, and media lawyers; and many more who use our online and mobile resources. For more information, go to rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.