The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted decades ago to enable the citizenry the opportunity to monitor governmental affairs. As FOIA precedent has held, the public is entitled to find out and know “what the government is up to.” Indeed, upon request, the government is required to provide information about its activities unless prohibited by a narrow statutory exemption or otherwise prevented by law.
Of course, statutory aspirations and actual production of information in practice are not always in harmony. There are times when government information is not produced within the timelines set forth in FOIA. Other times, information is not produced at all; for example, when the government is perceived to give too wide an interpretation on the applicability of a statutory exemption. Moreover, different administrations have different views on how open government should be when it comes to disclosing information under FOIA.
Continue reading Bill Would Shine More Light on Gov’t Activities Under FOIA
Last week, by virtue of a 63-30 procedural vote, the Senate moved forward with a bill called the Marketplace Fairness Act, with a final Senate vote set for May 6, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The bill, if it were to become law, would enable states to force online sellers nationally to collect sales tax with respect to their residents’ purchases.
In the past, online sellers were not in favor of the imposition of sales taxes on Internet transactions — indeed, these sellers had a competitive advantage over brick-and-mortar sellers, because purchases from online sellers were cheaper for buyers due to the lack of imposed taxes.
Continue reading The Death of the Tax-Free Internet?
The House has approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA, H.R. 624). CISPA allows private companies and the federal government to exchange information relating to cybersecurity threats.
The bill was passed in the face of some concerns that it might provide private consumer information to the government. According to Reuters, President Obama has threatened to veto the bill on the basis that it supposedly does not mandate that companies take the greatest efforts to remove personal information before providing it to the government.
Continue reading Cybersecurity Bill Passes The House, But What’s Next?