March 16, 2007 | By Marcia Hofmann

FOIA Reforms Plow Forward in Congress

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that will make much-needed updates to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and strengthen the public's right to get records from the federal government. H.R. 1309, the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007, was approved yesterday by a considerable 308-117 margin. But the White House lashed out against the legislation, calling FOIA improvements "premature and counterproductive" in light of an 2005 presidential order requiring agencies to streamline their FOIA processes.

Just this week the National Security Archive released a report showing how necessary FOIA improvements are. The non-profit research group found that most federal agencies have failed to improve online access to public information in spite of a decade-old FOIA change requiring that they do so.

In related news, a bipartisan bill similar to H.R. 1309 was introduced earlier this week in the Senate. Like the House bill, S. 849, the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007, will improve the public's right to access government information through the FOIA and penalize agencies that don't comply with the law.

Learn more about the FOIA and EFF's Flag Project here.

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