IJMC CPSR Newsletter

			IJMC - CPSR Newsletter

Well, this can well qualify as junk mail to some, but I do think it is 
somewhat important, albeit a bit boring...so read if you will, and act if 
you choose, but remember, you make a choice either way.

To mention, I will be AFK (Away From Keyboard) for a week or so, so the 
IJMC will die for that time. But when I return, we're moving to an actual 
listserv, the web page will be updated (hey, we're in the top 5% of all 
web sites...or so we're told...), and lots of other koule stuff will 
happen. Including more of the wonderful and humourous posts you have all 
grown to love (or type <del> before reading, you be the judge) or hope to 
find...lastly, a quick welcome to the most recent batch of new 
subscribers, there were enough of you that we just hit 200+ 
subscriptions! For what began as just a distribution list for a few 
friends, I'm pleased...so have fun, enjoy your labor day, and look 
forward to the return of a bigger, better IJMC in about a week and a half!

Subject: Announcing the CPSR Newsletter

Announcing the Latest Edition of the CPSR Newsletter,
devoted to Freedom of Information.  To learn more
about joining CPSR or obtaining this issue, email to
cpsr@cpsr.org  or check the Web, at


****Computers, Government, and Access to Electronic Records****

Guest Editor:  Marsha Woodbury, Director at Large, CPSR

Excerpts from the introduction:

The articles in this issue should update your knowledge of what
freedom of information laws are, how these laws treat electronic
records, and what we, as computer professionals and concerned
citizens, should know about our responsibilities for creating,
maintaining, and using databases.  Our purpose herein is to discuss
how computers and digitized records will change your access to
government data.  In order to  focus on the topic, I left the issues of
copyright, maintaining the integrity and authenticity of records, and
protecting personal privacy for future editors to cover.

One piece of advice:  always try to obtain information without resort
to the law.  Once you make a formal request, the government officials
can find many reasons for not filling it, and you may wait for years.
You can catch more bytes with honey than with vinegar, as it were.
Freedom of Information...

Freedom of information, or "the right to know," is an emotional issue.
The concept's undergirding philosophy recognizes that the public, as
"the people" with a common interest in the common good, has "the
right to know." In contrast, a totalitarian government doesn't even go
through the motions of openness.  Those who believe in the right to
know hold that an informed public is a safeguard against
governmental abuse of power; yet, no matter how open a
government aspires to be, it can hardly avoid reining in access to and
release of information, in order to govern.
The articles should broaden our knowledge of what has
been happening to federal, state, and local FOIAs as records are
increasingly stored in electronic form.

The first article, by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the
Press, defines many of the issues and offers guidance about how to
prepare a FOIA request.  Next, David Morrisey, a professor in
Colorado, writes about the lack of government preparation for
electronic access. In the subsequent article, Eileen Gannon describes
how the Environmental Working Group acquires and translates data
in order to provide information to the public.

Archivists have many legitimate concerns about how the government
stores its records electronically.  The Society of American Archivists
has written a position statement on archival issues to guide your
planning.  This statement is followed by the concerns of James Love,
who fills us in on public and private networks in regard to the status
of public records and open meetings under FOIA.

David Sobel has contributed an update on the CPSR and EPIC
lawsuits, some of which concern FOIA issues.  Joel Campbell gives
some tips for starting a state freedom of information organi-zation.
Dave Gowen relates his own experience in acquiring electronic data.
Finally, we include a list of listservs, Gopher, web, and FTP resources
for further information.  I hope this newsletter will do three things:

1.  Help you to obtain and use information stored in digital form,
whether browsing it online, doing research, or monitoring the

2.  Make us all more aware of the pitfalls and plusses of digital
record-keeping, and how we can use our expertise to help others.

3.  Lend support to the journalists, archivists, and activists who are
working hard to insure our right to know.  People who save a tree or
historic building enjoy more publicityQtheir acts are visual and
dramatic.  A person who stops a mass "delete" or puts up
government web pages earns little public acclaim. This newletter
gives them the attention they deserve.


Scalia, Antonin.  "The Freedom of Information Act Has No Clothes."
Regulation 6(2) 1982:  14-19.

Table of Contents

Access to Electronic Records    3
Will Washington Share Its Electronic Bounty?    5
Solving Environmental Problems with Information Technology      9
Archival Issues Raised by Information Stored in Electronic Form 11
Public and Private Networks, and the Status of Public Records, Open
Meetings, and FOIA      13
CPSR and EPIC FOIA Cases: Current Status        14
FOI and First Admendment-related Resources on the Internet         16
Six Tips for Starting a State Freedom of Information Organization  19
CPSR Executive Director Search  20
Confidentiality and Availability of Public Information  21
Chapter Updates    22

The CPSR newsletter is sent free to members and is available for $5 an
issue by U.S. mail for non-members -- please send your postal address.

Marsha Woodbury, Ph.D.            Associate Director of Education,
Sloan Center for Asynchronous Learning Environments (SCALE)
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign     marsha-w@uiuc.edu
Director at Large, CPSR          http://w3.scale.uiuc.edu/marsha/

IJMC August 1995 Archives