When a government official sends work-related emails over a private or personal email account, the emails are not necessarily exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, a federal appeals court ruled July 5, 2016.
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Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the original Freedom of Information Act, President Obama June 30, 2016, signed into law a package of amendments to strengthen it. The bill codifies the "presumption of openness."
Here are some recent Congressional Research Service reports relevant to the environment and energy beat, thanks to the Federation of American Scientists' Government Secrecy Project.Region:
Overall goals of the new draft plan are to make all government data and information open by default and to eliminate all fees except for an initial $5 filing fee. The Canadian government invites comments on the plan before June 30, 2016.Region:
Don't get us wrong: the U.S. federal government's openness to public scrutiny leaves much to be desired. Still, it's worth noting that some improvements have taken place. Here are a few prominent ones. Image: Clipart.com.Topics on the Beat:
Journalism may finally be ready to stride into the brave new techno-world of drone reporting now that the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a regulation removing the previous cloud of illegality and uncertainty. It's just the beginning.
FOIA reform: it's all over but the shouting — and the implementation. The package of amendments to FOIA features codification of the "presumption of openness," would establish a single online federal portal for FOIA requests and strengthen the role of the Office of Government Information Services. Image: Clipart.com.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which takes money the feds get from offshore drilling and parcels it out to federal, state and local agencies for parks and conservation land, is a goldmine for environmental stories by enterprising reporters. And now InvestigateWest, a non-profit watchdog journalism outlet, has made LWCF sleuthing easier by compiling an easy-to-use database of LWCF grants made between 1965 and 2011.Topics on the Beat:
The draft Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty is still being kept secret from the hundreds of millions of people whom it will affect. It matters for environmental journalists as trade treaties often set up mechanisms for corporations to negate the environmental laws of signatory countries. Image: WikiLeaks.
Environmental journalists are not alone in their frustrations with the federal officials who are supposed to help journalists get information about what government is doing. Now the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) has surveyed its members and found the federal government often blocks access to information that health care journalists seek.