The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. I was in high school and remember seeing the historic signing of this on the steps of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. (I was later to become a journalism student there.)
This Act allows individuals or companies to challenge the government regarding documents it holds and considers classified. Many important news stories were broken by journalists and their attorneys using this Act.
Needless to say, not everyone is pleased that individuals have access and the right to challenge the government's decision to keep documents classified. There have been many attempts for government officials a nd legislators to prevent this access. Reporters and others then can go to a "higher authority" and appeal.
I'm certain many of us will might be thinking, this is journalism, politics kind of stuff, right? Or journalists are using this all the time?
The fact is: business peoeple (and their attorneys) use the Freedom of Information Act more (journalists are approximately 10 to 20 percent of the filers for information)than anyone else.
Why? They are looking for information that can help them do their jobs better, find out what the competition might be doing, and more.
So how do they do it? If you are company A and you want to see if Company B has some "dodgy dealings" that might have been reported to the FDA, for example, you would not want Company B to know if was YOU checking up on them...or trying to check up on them. So...your lawyers do it...and don't disclose your company name. Also, all requests to FOIA officials (they process these questions) are required to make the names of all petititoners on the public record.
A couple of...