For Sunshine Week, Open Records Project Adds FOIA tools
March 15, New York – Today, to mark Sunshine Week, the Center for Constitutional Rights unveiled two new resources to help activists access public information through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and other queries. Created by the organization's Open Records Project, which has compelled the release of millions of government documents, the tools build on its FOIA Basics for Activists toolkit.
The first new resource, FYI! FOIA You Info, provides an annotated template for individuals to request records that government agencies might be keeping on them. The second, a Glomar appeal resource, offers ways to challenge the confusing and frustrating responses often given by agencies to FOIA requests.
“As federal law enforcement continues to expand its surveillance and targeting of advocates and communities across the country, especially Black organizers and activists, FOIA provides one important tool to shine a light on what information these government agencies are gathering,” says Ian Head, coordinator of the Open Records Project. “We hope these two new resources will assist anyone in their advocacy, whether for current records of surveillance or in gaining more transparency for past government abuses.”
The Open Records Project has partnered with activists across the country, helping them strategize, file, and litigate public records requests. With the project’s support, activists have exposed government corruption and human rights abuses on issues ranging from immigrants’ rights to police accountability to environmental justice.
“I started working with the Center for Constitutional Rights on FOIA requests in 2009 when we first learned of the ‘Secure Communities’ program – a key tool that ICE deployed to rapidly advance the police-to-deportation pipeline,” said Mizue Aizeki, Executive Director of the Surveillance Resistance Lab. “We continue to work together closely to investigate ICE surveillance tactics and technologies. FOIAs are a critical means for communities and advocates to learn about the policies and practices that fuel policing and the surveillance state."
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.