Government Stewardship of Online Information: FOIA Requirements and Other Considerations

Government Stewardship of Online Information: FOIA Requirements and Other Considerations

G. Scott Erickson (Ithaca College, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-012-7.ch016
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This chapter focuses on the specific issue of the federal Freedom of Information Act and associated state and local freedom of information laws. While full of good intentions regarding openness in government, the statutes have increasingly been applied to circumstances when individuals or organizations seek government records for legal or business purposes. As such, confidential business information and private personal information are both vulnerable when data are in government hands. Given the maze of exemptions and agency interpretations regarding freedom of information requests, the circumstances are both highly variable and unpredictable. Better understanding of the statutes and their interpretations will help individuals and organizations make better decisions regarding data interactions with various levels of government.
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In an age with ever increasing amounts of personal data held in commercial and government databases, many individuals view the government as the champion of their personal right to privacy. While this is true to some extent, it is also true that various levels of government are great generators, collectors, and suppliers of personal data. Some is published as a matter of course, some is sold. But a substantial amount of information flows out of the federal, state, and local governments every day as a result of freedom of information requests. Indeed, it is quite possible that information you did not even realize the government holds is being turned over to a private concern right now, whether the government agency involved really wants to do so or not.

In this chapter, we will look at general trends in data collection and processing and how they relate to statute, execution, and court precedent concerning the federal Freedom of Information Act and related state laws. We will cover the laws in some detail, including common exemptions from requests and changes in the law over time. Agency practices related to the act and key court decisions will also be covered.

With that background, we will consider the status and vulnerability of confidential business information passed on to governments. Because such information increasingly includes personal details about individuals (chiefly customers), government-held business information impacts our privacy discussion. We will then move on to consider the status and vulnerability of government databases concerning individual citizens.

The main point of the chapter is that matters remain in flux in this area. Government openness is fairly well-defined but privacy rights are not entirely clear, especially related to freedom of information requests. Regardless of which way the balance tips (openness vs. privacy), more certainty will help government, organizations, and individuals better plan how and when to share their own information resources.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Kuanchin Chen, Adam Fadlalla
Chapter 1
Andrew Pauxtis
What began as simple homepages that listed favorite Web sites in the early 1990’s have grown into some of the most sophisticated, enormous... Sample PDF
Google: Technological Convenience vs. Technological Intrusion
Chapter 2
Angelena M. Secor
In this chapter, consumer online privacy legal issues are identified and discussed. Followed by the literature review in consumer online privacy... Sample PDF
A Taxonomic View of Consumer Online Privacy Legal Issues, Legislation, and Litigation
Chapter 3
Hy Sockel, Louis K. Falk
There are many potential threats that come with conducting business in an online environment. Management must find a way to neutralize or at least... Sample PDF
Online Privacy, Vulnerabilities, and Threats: A Manager's Perspective
Chapter 4
Thejs Willem Jansen
Governments and large companies are increasingly relying on information technology to provide enhanced services to the citizens and customers and... Sample PDF
Practical Privacy Assessments
Chapter 5
Leszek Lilien, Bharat Bhargava
Any interaction—from a simple transaction to a complex collaboration—requires an adequate level of trust between interacting parties. Trust includes... Sample PDF
Privacy and Trust in Online Interactions
Chapter 6
Huong Ha, Ken Coghill
The current measures to protect e-consumers’ privacy in Australia include (i) regulation/legislation; (ii) guidelines; (iii) codes of practice; and... Sample PDF
Current Measures to Protect E-Consumers' Privacy in Australia
Chapter 7
Anil Gurung, Anurag Jain
Individuals are generally concerned about their privacy and may withhold from disclosing their personal information while interacting with online... Sample PDF
Antecedents of Online Privacy Protection Behavior: Towards an Integrative Model
Chapter 8
Alan Rea, Kuanchin Chen
Protecting personal information while Web surfing has become a struggle. This is especially the case when transactions require a modicum of trust to... Sample PDF
Privacy Control and Assurance: Does Gender Influence Online Information Exchange?
Chapter 9
Bernadette H. Schell, Thomas J. Holt
This chapter looks at the literature—myths and realities—surrounding the demographics, psychological predispositions, and social/behavioral patterns... Sample PDF
A Profile of the Demographics, Psychological Predispositions, and Social/Behavioral Patterns of Computer Hacker Insiders and Outsiders
Chapter 10
Chiung-wen ("Julia") Hsu
This chapter introduces a situational paradigm as a means of studying online privacy. It argues that data subjects are not always opponent to data... Sample PDF
Privacy or Performance Matters on the Internet: Revisiting Privacy Toward a Situational Paradigm
Chapter 11
Tom S. Chan
While delivering content via the Internet can be efficient and economical, content owners risk losing control of their intellectual property. Any... Sample PDF
Online Consumer Privacy and Digital Rights Management Systems
Chapter 12
Betty J. Parker
Marketing practices have always presented challenges for consumers seeking to protect their privacy. This chapter discusses the ways in which the... Sample PDF
Online Privacy and Marketing: Current Issues for Consumers and Marketers
Chapter 13
Suhong Li
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the current status of online privacy policies of Fortune 100 Companies. It was found that 94% of the... Sample PDF
An Analysis of Online Privacy Policies of Fortune 100 Companies
Chapter 14
Andy Chiou
In this chapter, the authors will briefly discuss some cross cultural concerns regarding Internet privacy. The authors believe that due to the cross... Sample PDF
Cross Cultural Perceptions on Privacy in the United States, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan
Chapter 15
Sean Lancaster
Biometrics is an application of technology to authenticate users’ identities through the measurement of physiological or behavioral patterns. The... Sample PDF
Biometric Controls and Privacy
Chapter 16
G. Scott Erickson
This chapter focuses on the specific issue of the federal Freedom of Information Act and associated state and local freedom of information laws.... Sample PDF
Government Stewardship of Online Information: FOIA Requirements and Other Considerations
Chapter 17
Charles O’Mahony
This chapter will discuss the legal framework for consumer and data protection in Europe. Central to this discussion will be the law of the European... Sample PDF
The Legal Framework for Data and Consumer Protection in Europe
Chapter 18
Karin Mika
This chapter provides an overview of law relating to online and Internet medical practice, data protection, and consumer information privacy. It... Sample PDF
Cybermedicine, Telemedicine, and Data Protection in the United States
Chapter 19
J. Michael Tarn
This chapter explores the current status and practices of online privacy protection in Japan. Since the concept of privacy in Japan is different... Sample PDF
Online Privacy Protection in Japan: The Current Status and Practices
About the Contributors