January 15, 2016 | By Dave Maass

Send in Your FOIA Horror Stories for The Foilies 2016

The Foilies are back! 

Last year, EFF launched our inaugural, tongue-in-cheek awards series for government agencies who thwarted, stymied, foot-dragged, and retaliated in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other public records requests. We called out secrecy over cell-site simulators, marveled at the $1.4 million fee estimate for the DEA’s “El Chapo” file, and panned Chicago Public Schools’ refusal to disclose what’s in its mystery meats.

Sadly, the government didn’t learn its lesson.

Once again, EFF will announce many, many Foilies winners during Sunshine Week, March 13-19, 2016. But before we can publicly shame those who foiled your access to government records, we need your nominations. 

Who Can Win?

The Foilies are not given to people who filed FOIA requests. These are not awards anyone actually should want. In fact, there is no physical award. They are virtual distinctions of demerit issued to government agencies and public officials (plus the odd rock star) who snubbed their nose at transparency. If you filed a FOIA request with the Ministry of Silly Walks for a list of grant recipients, and a civil servant in a bowler hat told you to take a ludicrous hike, then the ministry itself would be eligible for the Foilies. 

What Are the Categories?

For the most part, we do not determine the categories in advance. Rather, we look at the nominations we receive, winnow them down to the most outrageous, then come up with fitting tributes, such as “Most Ironic Literary Redaction” and “Most Passive Aggressive Release of Records.” That said, there are a few things we’re looking for in particular, such as extremely long processing times and absurdly large fee estimates.  Most of all, we want your most surreal redactions.

Who Can Nominate 

Anyone, regardless of whether you were involved in the issue or just happened to read about it on Twitter. Send as many nominations as you like! 


All nominations must have had some event happen during calendar year 2015. For example, you can nominate something related to a FOIA request filed in 1994 if you finally received a rejection in 2015.


All nominations must be received by Feb. 16, 2016.

How to Submit a Nomination

Send nominations to foilies@eff.org with “FOILIES 2015 NOMINATION” in the subject line. You can nominate multiple entries in a single email, just make sure to enumerate the nominations so we can easily separate them. Please try to include these six items. 

Category: One line suggested award title

Description: Succinct explanation the public records issue and why it deserves recognition. 

Links: Include any links to stories, records, or other information that will help us better understand the issue.

Attachments: If you have the original FOIA/public records request and subsequent correspondence to support the nomination, please include it with the email. We may seek this information out separately later.

Attribution: Let us know if we can attribute the nomination to you and, if so, how you would like to be named (name, Twitter handle, etc.).

Contact details: Include a way for us to reach you with further questions. This information will remain confidential.

Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

We're glad to see that adoption of HTTPS encryption has skyrocketed. https://pardonsnowden.org/new... h/t @PardonSnowden

Oct 20 @ 12:42pm

The Student Privacy Pledge stops short of fully protecting students and their information. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks...

Oct 20 @ 10:44am

Snowden's effect on tech? People have adopted better security habits.

Oct 20 @ 10:06am
JavaScript license information