FOI considered too free

The US federal government is to pay a Texas law school $1 million to carry out research aimed at rolling back the amount of sensitive data available to the press and public through freedom of information requests. St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio will analyze recent state laws that place previously available information, such as site plans of power plants, beyond the reach of public inquiries.

Jeffrey Addicott, a professor at the law school, said he will use that research to produce a national "model statute" that state legislatures and Congress could adopt to ensure that potentially dangerous information "stays out of the hands of the bad guys."

Critics say the research plan overstates the need for secrecy and is likely to give state and federal governments too much discretion to withhold material. "Restricting information (for) security and efficiency and comfort level, that's the good story," said Paul McMasters, a specialist in public information law at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va. "The bad story is that it can also be a great instrument of control. ... To automatically believe that the less known the better is really not rational."

FOIA is considered 'too free' (Free-Market News Network, 11 July 2006)

Tax dollars to fund study on restricting public data (USA Today, 7 May 2006)