To avoid honoring FOIA requests, some governments are suing requesters

Freedom of information requests for public records are getting harder to complete, especially now that some governments are suing requesters.

Ryan Foley writes:

The lawsuits generally ask judges to rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged. They name the requesters as defendants but do not seek damage awards. Still, the recent trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates, who say it’s becoming a new way for governments to hide information, delay disclosure and intimidate critics.

“This practice essentially says to a records requester, ‘File a request at your peril,’” said University of Kansas journalism professor Jonathan Peters, who wrote about the issue for the Columbia Journalism Review in 2015, before several more cases were filed. “These lawsuits are an absurd practice and noxious to open government.”

Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters (WaPo via American Libraries)

Image: Joe Gratz

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