Freedom of Information Act (USA)

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, became law in the United States in 1966. Its goal is the disclosure of government documents and information to the public. The law specifies which government agency records need to be disclosed, the procedures for the disclosure and nine exemptions. The federal law was updated by the Sunshine Act in 1976 as well as several other changes over the following decades. Many states also have Freedom of Information Acts. 

The law puts the burden on the government, not on the public, to give good reason why information shouldn't be released. All agencies are required to disclose information upon the receipt of written requests, unless the agency can show that the release would harm the public. The law is enforced by the federal court system.

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