The Freedom of Information Act and How To Use It

If you’re tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net. Note: An audio version of this guide is available for supporters. Become a supporter here. On a sweltering day in July, 1966, a historic event unfolded in the hallowed halls of power in Washington, D.C. A monumental law was signed, one that would change the landscape of American governance and redefine the relationship between the people and their government. The law was called the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and its birth was no accident, but a result of years of tireless advocacy and momentous shifts in the social and political fabric of the nation. Let’s take a step back and embark on a journey to the tumultuous 1960s, when America was riding on waves of rapid change. It was an era of escalating Cold War tensions, a protracted conflict in Vietnam, and groundbreaking civil rights movements that were shaking the very core of society. With growing uncertainties on all fronts, there was an increasing disillusionment amongst the citizenry about the lack of transparency in the government’s dealings. This sentiment was particularly prevalent in the press, who were often met with opaque responses and bureaucratic walls when they attempted to pierce the veil of secrecy around governmental affairs. The spark that lit the flame of FOIA began in the unlikely form of John Moss, a Congressman from California. For Moss, the quest for governmental transparency was personal. He had faced repeated stonewalling while investigating…The Freedom of Information Act and How To Use It