FBI Improves eFOIA by Dropping ID Requirement

Amid significant outcry, the FBI has responded by removing the controversial ID requirement from its web-based FOIA system. We reported our concerns regarding it when the program was initially introduced. Congress also got involved, with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) writing to FBI Director James Comey that he had a “strong concern that the ID requirement presents serious legal and privacy concerns,” according to FedScoop.

That is not the only improvement, however. The updated system, rebranded eFOIPA, can now also handle requests under the Privacy Act for records about oneself. The arbitrary “one request per person per day” limit still stands, and any request about a living person other than yourself will need to be submitted in one of the more traditional formats. The FBI site states that “the eFOIPA portal will remain open to the public for approximately four months before closing for review, analysis, and additional changes.”

While the overly intrusive nature of the initial requirements was troubling, it is encouraging to see that the FBI is open to feedback and willing to change parts of the system. We hope the agency continues to improve its FOIA system, making it faster, more efficient, and more accessible to members of the public.