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FACTDROP: FOIA data suggests FCC more secretive than CIA
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3/23/2012

FOIA data suggests FCC more secretive than CIA

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski speaks to the media on the importance of net neutrality December 1, 2010 at the headquarters of the FCC in Washington, DC. Genachowski outlined a framework for broadband internet service providers that would prohibit them from blocking or limiting lawful online content.


By Josh Peterson
March 21 2012

Recent data suggests that the FCC, not the nation’s intelligence leading agency, has been in at least one particular case the most secretive agency of the Obama Administration.

During a House appropriations subcommittee hearing Monday, Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart noted that the FCC’s denial rate of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests was significantly higher than the rest of the federal government.

Citing publicly available information from FOIA.gov, the congressman noted that the 48 percent of FOIA requests the FCC rejected in 2010 was far higher than the CIA’s 0.7 percent rate. The National Security Agency denied 0.5 percent of requests. Homeland Security denied 0.2 percent. The rest of the government, the congressman noted, denied a collective 7.3 percent of FOIA requests during that same time.

“Why does the FCC all of a sudden have more secrets than the CIA when you’re dealing with FOIA requests?” asked Diaz-Balart during the hearing.

“Well, I am not familiar with those numbers and I haven’t heard them before, We’d be happy to look at them together with you, and try to understand the trends,” Genachowski said to the congressman. “Certainly, we recognize our obligations under FOIA and we have a team of professionals who handle FOIA requests and understand their obligations to comply and meet their obligations under law.”

Several of the requests, according to FOIA.gov’s data cited by the congressman, were denied under the justification that requests were “not reasonably described.”

“Under your watch, the FCC denied about 16.4 percent of FOIA requests based on records that were not, quote, ‘reasonably described,’” said Diaz-Balart to Genachowski.


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