In an effort to keep government information transparent for the American citizens, the Freedom of Information Act was instated by the President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. Thus, this federal law allows people to inquire about unreleased documents or data that are in possession of the United States government. After an official request, the authorities can disclose the needed file fully or only parts of it. The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it is going to make some changes regarding the requesting system for their information.
The new project will come into effect as of the month of March. The FBI will no longer use an e-mail system to tackle any FOIA requests. On the other hand, American citizens can submit their official statements through other methods. The old ways allow them to make use of traditional mail services or even fax equipment if they want access to unreleased documents. The FBI is also going to replace the disconnected email with an online website.
The official statement from the FBI explains that the eFOIA would be a better choice of requested submissions for authorities. The online portal is going to streamline this process. This will happen thanks to its automatization feature that will replace hours of work due to a high volume of requests. The new change will make the FOIA procedure more efficient than before, by automatically receiving and opening the FOIA request.
On the other hand, the American citizens will have to deal with a more complex system than before. First of all, to submit their request they have to accept the terms and conditions of the service. Secondly, it will be the first time they are forced to disclose personal information such as the mobile number and physical address. By refusing to comply with the new conditions, citizens will no longer gain access to government information. Moreover, an additional feature will be that the online portal is capable of processing a limited number of forms per day. This means that citizens will have to wait even longer periods of time to receive what they want.
A major point of concern for the opposition to this new system regards the terms and conditions of the website. By reading these parameters, people will be warned not to submit more than one request per day. Moreover, they have to clearly write if they are located in the U.S. or another country. The opposition states that these demands are not mentioned at all in the FOIA legislation.
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