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How to Street Fight With the FBI over FOIA and Win

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opednews.com Headlined to H1 1/9/14

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MuckRock: What has to take place for meaningful policy level changes to FOIA laws? Will we ever see that day?

Ryan Shapiro: The first thing that needs to happen is for more people to use FOIA and become invested in it. It's for this reason (and many others) that MuckRock is such an invaluable resource and addition to the open government landscape. We also need more historians and journalists in particular to regularly utilize FOIA and promote the fruits of FOIA work.

I've already mentioned Will Potter's great work above, and I encourage everyone to check out his news site Green Is The New Red and his award-winning book of the same name. I'm also very fortunate to collaborate with the intrepid journalist and fellow FOIA-prosthelytizer, Jason Leopold, but he's a rarity.

Democracy cannot meaningfully exist without an informed citizenry, and such a citizenry is impossible without broad public access to information about the operations of government. The Bush administration initiated a disastrous welter of anti-transparency initiatives, yet the Obama administration has been, if anything, even worse. Despite entering office promising unprecedented openness, the Obama administration has provided just the opposite, including bringing more Espionage Act prosecutions of leakers than all previous administrations combined. It's not surprising those in power wish to keep their actions secret. What's surprising is how readily we tolerate it.

The Freedom of Information Act is one of the most underappreciated elements of the entire American experiment. As broken as FOIA is, the notion that the records of government are the property of the people, and all we need to do to get them is to ask, is radically democratic. FOIA must not only be defended against the FBI and others who view transparency as a threat, but strengthened, and dramatically expanded. The viability of our democracy depends upon it.

Photo by Stephanie Crumley.

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Follow Ryan Shapiro on Twitter @_rshapiro.

Submit a records request of your own by joining MuckRock today. Stay up-to-date on FOIA news by signing up for our mailing list, or by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

Reprinted from muckrock.com

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http://muckrock.com

Freedom of Information, finally made easy.

Filing Freedom of Information Requests doesn’t need to be difficult. At MuckRock, we are dedicated to wading through the muck so you don’t. What does this mean for you? Less time spent mitigating complex bureaucratic processes so that you can focus on analyzing and reporting on the issues that matter most to you and your organization or business.

As the only public records request service of its kind in the United States, MuckRock serves journalists, researchers, activists and historians, with a track record of over 2,000 requests. Simply login to your account and submit your FOI request via our simple web-interface.

MuckRock acts as a request proxy, e-mailing, faxing or even snail mailing the request on your behalf. Documents are sent to our offices to be prepared by our team of experts for your convenience. We can even assist with analyzing your data. Our intuitive system ensures that your documents are for your eyes only until you're ready to publish.

Stumped for a story? MuckRock's community gives plenty of inspiration for compelling, data-driven reporting at the fingertips of customers, who have access to our exclusive data and stories without having to go on time-consuming fishing expeditions to reel in leads.

Cofounder Michael Morisy is an award-winning journalist who has had work featured in Boston Globe, the New England Center for Investigative Journalism, and many others. 

Cofounder Mitchell Kotler is a veteran of multiple technology startups including Achronix. He has a Masters in Electrical & Computer Engineering and a Bachelors of Science from Cornell University. 

Projects Editor Shawn Musgrave, a graduate of Boston University, has managed some of the largest public records projects ever done, working with groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Boston Globe and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. 

Reporter George LeVines, a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison, focuses on security, policing and historical government documents. He has been published by the the Christian Science Monitor, Boston.com, Dig Boston and many others. 



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How to Street Fight With the FBI over FOIA and Win