The Printing Press to the Internet
9. Access to Government Records, Property & Services
C H A P T E R N I N E Access to Government Records, Property & Services CONTROVERSY: What is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hiding? It has 2,000 naked images of airline passengers, and it refuses to let the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) see them. Airport security full-body scanners captured the images. The center, a privacy advocacy group, says it needs them to determine if the screening violates the Fourth Amendment and federal statutory laws protecting privacy. EPIC filed requests in 2009 to obtain information about the screening under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).FOIA, enacted in 1966, requires federal agencies to make government records available to the public. DHS produced 1,766 pages of doc- uments, but withheld the images, invoking one of the FOIA’s nine exemptions to dis- closure, Exemption 2-High. EPIC challenged DHS’s reliance on Exemption 2-High, but lost on summary judgment in January 2011.1 For some time, courts used the term “Low 2” for human resources and employee relations records and “High 2” for records whose disclosure would risk circumvention of the law. That classification disappeared, however, less than two months after EPIC v. DHS. In March 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated Exemption 2-High in Milner v. U.S. Department of the Navy, No. 09–1163 (2011), thereby changing the law that the judge had relied on in EPIC v. DHS, and giving EPIC another chance. But EPIC’s bid to get the judge to reconsider and vacate his ruling failed on...
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