FOIA in the Digital Age

FOIA in the Digital Age

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Friday, September 30, 2016, 9:00am-11:30 a.m.
Goodman Hall (Littauer 140), Harvard Kennedy School

9:00-10:00 a.m.  Networking Breakfast
10:00-11:30 a.m.  Panel discussion

Email and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is in the national news—and has become part of the fabric of the 2016 presidential race. FOIA has helped journalists break many important national news stories over the past 50 years—but what are the implications for national media and presidential politics when FOIA meets a world of ubiquitous email, text, and Slack messages?

President Obama pledged to have the “most transparent administration in history,” and on his first full day in office, issued a memorandum directing that under FOIA agencies should adopt a presumption of openness. And more recently, in June 2016, President Obama signed a FOIA reform bill, which codified and expanded ongoing reforms. But critics charge that President Obama’s rhetoric doesn’t match his administration’s record on FOIA.

Has enough been done to bring FOIA into the digital age? What else can and should be done? How will the next administration implement FOIA after an election year where email and transparency has been a major campaign issue?

Panelists: 

  • Michael Morisy, Cofounder of MuckRock
  • Tracy Weber, Senior Editor at ProPublica
  • Miriam Nisbet, Former Director of Office of Government Information Services, National Archives
  • Nick Sinai, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer (moderator)