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Freedom of Information Act

I Need Educated On The FOIA

Come in to discuss your experience and troubles with the FOIA. Let everyone know what you are researching, and how you are doing!

Postby ShadellacZumbrum » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:30 am

Hello,
I have been lurking around for many years and really like what this site has to offer.

As of late, I have been spending a great deal of time investigating a certain subject and have run into a brick wall.

I have been dead-ended because of my Ignorance of the Freedom Of Information Act.

I have several questions that, hopefully, someone here has the ability to answer.

I look forward to my time here and the stimulating conversation that may ensue.
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Postby blackvault » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:56 am

Well I've filed about 4,000 FOIA requests to build this site... so maybe I can help? If not, I can hopefully point you in the right direction. Looking forward to seeing your questions...
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Postby ShadellacZumbrum » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:55 pm

I have read through allot of threads trying to get an idea of what I need to do, but things are a little hazy.

What I am looking for is information on filing a request for information on an individual. The FBI has a file on said individual as the information from a request was published about a week ago. The heavily redacted document blanked out this individuals name, however, allowed a quote from this particular individual, which to me proves his involvement with what I am investigating. Now, what I need to know is:
1 - Can Anyone file a request for information on an individual persons?
2 - Are the forms required readily available?
3 - What is the charge for the information?
4 - If they refuse the request, or deny such a document, does it require a legal action to get the information?
5 - Will this cause someone to be knocking on my door asking me questions as to why I am interested in said information?

I greatly appreciate your time in answering my questions.

Thank you very much.

P.S. I have enjoyed this sight for years and hopefully many years to come.
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Postby ShadellacZumbrum » Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:56 am

I might have thought that you would have answered my questions after 2 months. After all, you seemed so eager to help until I asked the questions.

Thanks anyways.
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Postby greeney2 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:20 am

I don't think you were ignored, I think most likely in this forum, for introductions, usually after a intro, and several people may respond with a welcome, the post can scroll down the page and sometimes get to page 2 very quickly, so may not be seen. I'll give John a heads up on this and I'm sure he will give you an answer.

I can tell you in the years I've watched John do this, it takes a lot of tenacity at times not to give up. Many times if you do not word things perfectly they can get kicked back. So you can send appeals, maybe correct what you may have written wrong, etc. The key is to not give up. I am not sure if there are standard forms, or who you direct them to at particular places, John can answer that. Some requests can take a great amount of time, from weeks up to several years, you just can not give up trying. With current budgets in government, expect a slow wait, but John will tell you by law they are required to give initial answers within a specified time. How extensive of a basic search is probably limited but I'm not the expert.
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Postby blackvault » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:42 am

I apologize for missing this... however, yes, I think it was overlooked because you posted it in the New Member Introduction forum, wherein, you might want to post it in the FOIA forum I setup for questions just like these.

That said:

1 - Can Anyone file a request for information on an individual persons?

Yes, but according to the Privacy Act, you need either a) the signature of the person you are requesting that they permit you to do so... or b) if they are dead, proof in the form of a death certificate, obituary, etc.

2 - Are the forms required readily available?

The FBI has offered a guide to do this, with form letters: http://www.fbi.gov/foia/requesting-fbi-records

3 - What is the charge for the information?

Varies from case to case... and there are different categories. For the most part... you get 100 free pages, 2 hours of search time, and you pay the rest. Copy charges range from 15-35 cents a page, while search time ranges from $30-$120 an hour. It can get pricey -- so just learn to be as specific as you can to limit charges.

4 - If they refuse the request, or deny such a document, does it require a legal action to get the information?

You can appeal. If they deny that, then yes, you can pursue legal action. I would definitely study the act itself to learn when might be the best time to do this. Each case is different, so there is no telling when to sue and when not to sue.

5 - Will this cause someone to be knocking on my door asking me questions as to why I am interested in said information?

I've filed more than 4,000 -- and while you might get a phone call from them clarifying what you are requesting, I've never been threatened or had anyone show up at my door. **knocks on wood**

I hope this helps. I moved this thread into the FOIA category.
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