The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is federal legislation in the United States that facilitates the access to existing federal records. While limited and sometimes controversial in terms of its scope and application, the act is regarded as the embodiment of the principle of the people’s right to know about the activities of those in power. It established a statutory presumption of public access to information held by government and associated agencies. As such, it is integral to the operation and protection of the democratic norm of governmental accountability and a critical justification for the protection of the media.

Since the FOIA was signed into law in 1966, different U.S. presidential administrations have interpreted or attempted to modify the law in different ways, with varying degrees ...

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