Information? Some of the earliest archeological finds are written records of crop production, slave holdings and lists of “free men” in Babylonian society (Vismann, 2000). By the mid 1500s police in London actively compiled information on people living in areas throughout the metropolis (Higgs, 2004).
Whose information? Karol has created a software program for organizing complex data records. Rather than sell the software for others to use on their PCs she decides to start her own data warehousing company. She contracts with businesses who offer customer loyalty cards and stores and mines the data. The government contacts her at some point and requests all the records that show purchases of propane canisters, lighter fluid and bullets as well as the unique identifiers of the customers related to such purchases. What potential information policy issues come up in this case?
Policy? “Whatever governments choose to do or not to do” (Dye, 1992). “Stated most simply, public policy is the sum of government activities, whether acting directly or through agents, as it has an influence on the life of citizens” (Peters, 1999). The Freedom of Information Act marks the point of “modern” information policy.
FOIA The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the implementation of freedom of information legislation in the United States. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966 (Amended 1996, 2002, 2007), and went into effect the following year. This act allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States Government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures and grants nine exemptions to the statute.legislationLyndon B. JohnsonJuly 41966United States Government http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act_( United_States)
Back to 1690 … classical liberalism Locke’s 2 nd Treatise of civil government. The dominant ideological foundation of our constitutional system. Power derives from the consent of the governed “We the people” are the governed who provide our consent to the government. Individual liberty and the ownership and acquisition of private property as a means by which to improve overall wealth and happiness and to discourage social strife (Birkland, 2005).
The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence What values related to information were the colonists trying to protect in the Constitution? What information related topics are addressed in the Constitution?
“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives” (Madison, 1782 in Morehead, 1995).
Democracy involves more than access to information but the willingness to use it. Writers of the Federalist papers worried about “mere democracy” and the tendency for the masses to follow demagoguery and emotionality.
Democracy and knowledge Democracy includes a civic responsibility to be informed A responsibility may be more apt than calling it a right…because we would have to consider and individual’s right to be ignorant or ill-informed It’s not possible to make a one to one comparison between information that is made available and information comprehended (Barthoy and McWilliams, 1977)
First Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Winter 2009 -- Unsworth
Fourteenth Amendment Rights Guaranteed Privileges and Immunities of Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection Winter 2009 -- Unsworth
“people’s right to know” “The Press has a privileged position in our constitutional system, not to enable it to make money, not to set newsmen apart as a favored class, but to bring fulfillment to the people’s right to know.” Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972), at p. 721.
Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817 (1974) “there is no constitutional right to have access to particular government information, or to require openness from the bureaucracy. The public’s interest in knowing about its government is protected by the guarantee of a Free Press, but the protection is indirect. The Constitution itself is neither a Freedom of Information Act nor an Official Secrets Act” (Associate Justice Potter Stuart, 1975)
Key Principles on government information 1.Access to government information is a public right that must not be restricted by administrative barriers, geography, ability to pay, or format 2.The government has a responsibility to collect, maintain, and disseminate information to the public. 3.Government information regardless of form or format should be disseminated in a manner that promotes its usefulness to the public. 4.Depository library programs must be preserved to provide equitable, no-fee access to government information for the public. 5.The cost of collecting, collating, storing, disseminating, and providing for permanent public access to government information should be supported by appropriation of public funds.
Key principles (cont.) 6.The role of private publishers should complement government responsibilities in the collection, storage, and dissemination of public information. Private sector involvement does not relieve the government of its information responsibilities. 7.Government information policy must ensure the integrity of public information. 8.It is essential to safeguard the right of the government information user to privacy and confidentiality. 9.Government has an obligation to preserve public information from all eras of the country’s history, regardless of form or format. 10.Government has a responsibility to provide a comprehensive cumulative catalog of government information regardless of form or format. 11.Copyright or copyright-like restrictions should not be applied to government information.
Highlights of GPO history Established 1861 (printing handled by State, Interior 1813-1860) ▫legislative agency (Joint Committee on Printing oversight) ▫Earliest known federal depository library of any kind: American Antiquarian Society Library, 1814 Printing Act of 1895 – centralized printing, moved SuDocs office, 420 DLs Land grant colleges became depositories (1907) Depository Library Act of 1962 – disposal guidelines, selectives, 594 DLs Federal court libraries added (1972) Law school libraries added (1978) Migration to microfiche (late 1970s) – 1200 DLs Full MARC cataloging records for Monthly Catalog (1976) Acceptance of CD-ROM as a distribution format (early 1990s) Mandated migration to Internet (GPO Access Act, PL 103-40) - 1400 DLs ▫GPO Access & other federal web sites begin in 1994 Source for dates: GPO History page, http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/history/index.html http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/history/index.html Winter 2009 -- Unsworth
Purpose and goals of the Federal Depository Library Program A well informed citizenry is essential for the proper functioning of democracy. The information has been published at the publics expense so they have a right to it. Wide availability of documents insures access and cuts cost.
Exceptions Documents that are classified for reasons of national security Documents with strictly administrative or operational purposes – no public interest or educational value Cooperative publications that must be sold in order to be self-sustaining