March 15, 2011 | By Jennifer Lynch

EFF Seeks Cooperating FOIA Reviewers

Are you an EFF member or supporter interested in helping out on EFF’s Freedom of Information Act cases and connecting with EFF’s FOIA attorneys? Are you looking for ways to volunteer with EFF but perhaps don’t live near our offices? EFF is setting up an email list to connect you to the important work we do to ensure government accountability.

EFF strongly believes in government transparency and accountability and regularly files requests with federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act to get information on how the government uses or misuses technology. And when the government doesn’t respond to our requests, we file suit to enforce the public’s right to access this information. Since we started our FOIA work, we have received hundreds of thousands of pages of documents on topics as diverse as abuse of the PATRIOT Act, the National Science Foundation’s funding of projects to create “smart dust,” and government monitoring of social networking sites. However, sometimes we get so many documents from the government, we can’t go through them all ourselves as quickly or comprehensively as we would like. This is how you can help us in this important work.

Here's how the Cooperating FOIA list will work: Send us an email to put your name on our list. When we get government documents in response to a FOIA request, we’ll post a note to the list with a basic description of the project (for example: "Documents from DHS detailing government use of social media – approximately 100 pages" or “Documents from FBI detailing misuse of National Security Letters – approximately 10,000 pages”). If you're on the list and are interested, you contact us, and we'll tell you how to access pdf versions of the documents and what we’re looking for in the information. Then you review the documents and let us know what you find. If it’s important and we think it fits in with our mission at EFF, we’ll blog about it and publicize it. If we decide not to, you’re free to write about it on your own.

You don’t need to be an attorney or have any specialized knowledge to be a Cooperating FOIA Reviewer. The documents we get may include technical specifications, reflect internal conversations on policy, or discuss violations of the law, so the ideal FOIA Reviewer is someone with sharp eyes and an interest in ferreting out information. Interested in being a Cooperating FOIA Reviewer? Send a note to coopfoia at with your name, email address, and some brief information on who you are and what you’re interested in, and we'll add you to the list.

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