The Yale Law Journal

Forum Collection

FOIA 50 Years Later

21 Nov 2016


The “Freedom From Information” Act: A Look Back at Nader, FOIA, and What Went Wrong

David E. McCraw

Not long after the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) went into effect, consumer advocate Ralph Nader sent one hundred students out to test whether the statute was working. The students made FOIA requests to more than a dozen federal agencies on a range of consumer topics, from highway safety and a…


A Resurgence of Secret Law

Jameel Jaffer & Brett Max Kaufman

This much should be uncontroversial: the public should have access to the law and to the government’s interpretations of it. This principle is an imperative not just of due process but also of republican governance. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which the Eighty-ninth Congress enacted half …


Memorandums to Messages: The Evolution of FOIA in the Age of the Internet

Melanie A. Pustay

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In the words of President Obama, this law, “which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.” Since its enactment…


Inside FOIA, Inc.

Margaret B. Kwoka

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has a lofty goal: to open the doors of government offices and allow the public a front-row seat in watching over government affairs. In turn, this sort of bright transparency should enhance our participatory democracy and the accountability of our elected offici…


Is Open Data the Death of FOIA?

Beth Simone Noveck

For fifty years, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been the platinum standard for open government in the United States. The statute isconsidered the legal bedrock of the public’s right to know about the workingsof our government. More than one hundred countries and all fifty states haveenact…