Tuesday, February 01, 2005

FOIA (US): Freedom of Information Comes at a $372,799 Cost

From Law.com:

"Washington public interest group's attempt to discover the extent to which the government has sought to hide legal proceedings involving immigrant detainees since Sept. 11 has been stymied by a huge, upfront tab for research. People for the American Way Foundation has been told it must pay nearly $400,000 before the Department of Justice will process its Freedom of Information Act request. The general counsel for the group, which hopes to publish a public report about government secrecy efforts against hundreds of unidentified detainees, called the unusually large fee requirement "outrageous." "

You can read more about the US fees structure at : http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/fees.htm
"Prior to the passage of the Freedom of Information Reform Act of 1986, (1) the FOIA authorized agencies to assess reasonable charges only for document search and duplication, and any assessable fees were to be waived or reduced if disclosure of the requested information was found to be generally in the "public interest." (2) The FOIA Reform Act brought significant changes to the way in which fees are now assessed under the FOIA. A new fee structure was established, including a new provision authorizing agencies to assess "review" charges when processing records in response to a commercial-use request. (3) Specific fee limitations and restrictions were set on the assessment of certain fees both in general as well as for certain categories of requesters. (4) Additionally, the 1986 FOIA amendments replaced the statutory fee waiver provision with a revised standard. (5) These revised fee and fee waiver provisions were made effective as of mid-1987, but required implementing agency regulations to become fully effective. (6)"

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