What is the Freedom
of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed by Congress in 1966
and became effective on July 4, 1967. Congress wanted to ensure that
the people have access the records of the Executive Branch of the United
States Government. Before the FOIA, the burden was on the individual
to establish a right to examine government records.
With the passage of the FOIA, the burden of proof shifted from the individual
to the government. Those seeking information are no longer required
to show a need for information. The government now has to justify its
need for not releasing records.
The FOIA sets standards for determining which records must be made available to a requester and which records can be withheld.
The law also provides administrative and judicial remedies for those
denied access to records. Above all, the statute requires federal agencies
to provide the fullest possible disclosure of information to the public.