FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPTEMBER 28, 2004 Contact: Marcia Hofmann, Staff Counsel (202) 483-1140 ext. 112 <email@example.com> EPIC CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL RIGHT TO KNOW DAY Announces New Edition of Freedom of Information Litigation Manual Washington, DC - Today, on International Right to Know Day, EPIC announced the publication of Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2004, the fully updated edition of the manual that lawyers, journalists and researchers have relied on for more than 25 years to obtain information about the United States government under the Freedom of Information Act. The Freedom of Information Act is critical for the functioning of democratic government because it helps ensure that the public is fully informed about matters of public concern. The Act has helped uncover fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal government. Although EPIC has faced increasing claims of government secrecy in the last few years, it has successfully used the Freedom of Information Act recently in several important civil liberties controversies. * EPIC revealed that Northwest Airlines turned over millions of passenger records to NASA, which used the personal information in an secret data mining study that was later cancelled. * EPIC found out that the Census Bureau gave the Department of Homeland Security information about Arab Americans when no similar information had been disclosed on any other ethnic group. The discovery led both the Census Bureau and Customs and Border Protection to revise their policies on how to handle requests for census data about "sensitive populations." * Documents obtained by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the federal government pursued a broad expansion of the passenger profiling system "CAPPS II," after assuring the public that it would only be used to identity terrorists. The Transportation Security Administration admitted that the expansion of CAPPS II's mission helped to doom the program. * EPIC also uncovered government files that indicate that the Department of Justice conducted a vast public relations campaign that was intended to garner support for the controversial PATRIOT Act. At least 65 prosecutors made 244 actual or attempted contacts with members of Congress to urge them not to change the PATRIOT Act. EPIC also obtained several e-mails discussing the legality of the federal prosecutors' efforts. EPIC also successfully litigated several Freedom of Information Act cases. Among the key outcomes in the last few months: * A federal judge rebuffed the Transportation Security Administration's claim that it had no obligation to release factual information in documents that are not finalized. The judge ordered the agency to review the documents for facts that could be released, or to justify why it was unable to do so. * In a lawsuit concerning the PATRIOT Act, a federal court rejected an effort by the Department of Justice to slow down the processing of an open government request and held that EPIC fulfills an important educational function by routinely disseminating the information it obtains. * In another case brought by EPIC, a federal court held that a classified contract between the FBI and ChoicePoint, which involved the sales of personal information on Americans to the law enforcement agency, is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. EPIC also applauds open records organizations around the world, including the Freedom of Information Advocates Network, which are working to make government more accountable and more transparent. "The key to democratic government is information about the activities of government. The Freedom of Information Act is the foundation of open society," said Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director EPIC. Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2004 was edited by Harry A. Hammitt of Access Reports and David L. Sobel, and Tiffany A. Stedman of EPIC. The manual provides an overview of the Freedom of Information Act, explains the law's exemptions, addresses fees and fee waivers, and discusses litigation strategy. It also covers the Privacy Act, Government in the Sunshine Act, and Federal Advisory Committee Act. Appendices include the text of the relevant acts and sample pleadings for litigators. EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values. EPIC is a recognized leader in the use of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain information about government policy on emerging issues. In the past year, EPIC's Freedom of Information work resulted in significant disclosures about the Total Information Awareness program, passenger screening developments, and the growing number of privacy complaints that consumers have sent to federal agencies. These documents have been the subject of Congressional hearings and news reports across the country. EPIC, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2004: http://www.epic.org/bookstore/foia2004 September 28 Right to Know Day Celebrations, Freedom of Information Advocates Network: http://www.foiadvocates.net EPIC's Open Government Overview: http://www.epic.org/open_gov EPIC's Freedom of Information Gallery: http://www.epic.org/open_gov/foiagallery EPIC's Litigation Docket: http://www.epic.org/privacy/litigation "Freedom of Information Laws From Around the World": http://www.privacyinternational.org/issues/foia/foia-laws.jpg ========== HURIDOCS-Tech listserv ========== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. 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