As Government Records Move From Paper to Email to Channels Like Slack, How Should FOIA Keep Up?

The late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia once called the Freedom of Information Act “the Taj Mahal of the doctrine of unanticipated consequences, the Sistine Chapel of cost-benefit analysis ignored.”

For investigative reporters — and increasingly, community groups and even just interested individuals — FOIA is often the single-most useful tool at their disposal. But even in 2016, as the FOIA law turns 50 years old and as government communications move onto digital platforms, reporters continue to be frustrated by delays and stonewalling, and officials continue to feel overwhelmed by the volume of requests coming their way. Both sides of the exchange are affected by underdeveloped technical infrastructure for finding, sorting, and delivering records.

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