Bush Signs FOIA Rewrite

On Monday, Dec. 31, President George Bush signed bipartisan legislation containing the most important amendments to the FOIA in over a decade. The changes
expand the definition of who is a “representative of the news media.” This will benefit bloggers and non-traditional journalists by making them eligible for discounted processing and duplication fees that are available to the news media.

Other important reforms include:

–Broadening the scope of information that can be requested by including government contracting information held by private contractors;
–Assigning public tracking numbers to all requests;
–Denying agencies that exceed the 20-day deadline for responses the right to charge requesters for search or copying costs;
–Making it easier to collect attorneys’ fees for those who must sue to force compliance with their FOIA requests; and
–Establishing an office at the National Archives to accept citizen complaints, issue opinions on requests, and foster best practices within the government.

For an excellent discussion of the new law, see this article by David Ardia of the Citizen Media Law Project.

Here is the text of the new law.