Freedom of Information Act Public Access Laws

The Freedom of Information Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1966 to promote government transparency and the free exchange of public information. Under FOIA, any individual can request federal... more +
The Freedom of Information Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1966 to promote government transparency and the free exchange of public information. Under FOIA, any individual can request federal agency records and enforce that right in a court of law. However, not all agency records can be requested; there are nine exempt categories of information. In addition to the federal law, many states have passed their own freedom of information acts. These acts are often similar but not always identical to the federal version.  less -
News & Analysis as of

PAC FOIA Opinions Address “Unduly Burdensome” factor, Personal Privacy Exemption and Public Records

In three separate opinions rendered in November, the Public Access Counselor (PAC) of the Illinois Attorney General provided guidance regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on the definition of “unduly burdensome,”...more

2016 Legislative Update: Summary of Changes in School Law

BOARDS OF EDUCATION - ENFORCEMENT OF BINDING PUBLIC ACCESS COUNSELOR OPINIONS - Public Act 99-586 - Effective Date: January 1, 2017 - Individuals who file lawsuits to enforce binding opinions from the PAC...more

Informing Illinois Newsletter - August 2016

Is Your Police Department Ready for Body Cameras? - Police use of force has been heavily scrutinized for more than a year. In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was providing $20 million in grants...more

PAC Finds FOIA Violation over Redactions in Governor Rauner’s Calendar

The PAC recently issued a binding opinion finding that the office of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner violated the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act by delaying its response to a FOIA request, and improperly...more

PAC Actions Offer Guidance on the Scope of the Unduly Burdensome Exception to FOIA

In October, the PAC released a written response to a FOIA request that it denied because it would be unduly burdensome under Section 3(g) of FOIA. 5 ILCS 140/3(g). The request asked for “Public Access Counselor determinations...more

PAC Finds Student Discipline Records, Even if Redacted, Identified Students and Were Exempt from FOIA

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) issued a non-binding opinion that provides guidance on what constitutes a school student record as provided in the Illinois School Student Records Act (ISSRA) and...more

PAC Opinion Finds Municipal Bank Account Numbers Subject to FOIA

Earlier this year, the Public Access Counselor (PAC) issued an under-the-radar advisory opinion that could have an impact on responses to Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. According to the non-binding...more

Government Contracting and Procurement Update: Public Access to Trade Secrets in Proposals and Bid Documents in Maine

Those doing business with the State of Maine need to know their way around public records laws. What is the risk that sensitive business information included within a bid response to a request for proposal (RFP) may become...more

Balancing The Burdens Of Transparency In The Illinois Freedom Of Information Act

A recent Chicago Tribune editorial, “The burden of transparency” asks a provocative question: does the unduly burdensome exemption in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allow an unfair loophole for public bodies...more

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