More FOIA barriers considered
- By Diane Frank
- Mar 28, 2000
Industry and law enforcement officials spoke out Tuesday about one of the
biggest barriers they perceive to sharing information about security and
cyberattacks: the fear that any information turned over to a government
agency is open to the Freedom of Information Act.
The officials spoke before Sen. Jon Kyl's Senate Judiciary Committee's Technology,
Terrorism and Government Information Subcommittee. Kyl (R-Ariz.) is considering
legislation that would help persuade industry to share cyberattack information
with the government by shielding the data from FOIA requests, Kyl's staff
Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) have said they will sponsor
a bill to exempt critical infrastructure-related information.
"Companies worry that if information sharing with government really becomes
a two-way street, FOIA requests for information they have provided to an
agency could prove embarrassing and probably costly," testified Harris Miller,
president of the Information Technology Association of America. "Many in
industry believe that freedom from FOIA concerns is the most formidable
obstacle and that an exemption for this type of information sharing is the
According to FBI director Louis Freeh, industry information obtained during
an investigation into a cyberattack would be afforded the same level of
protection against FOIA requests and the legal discovery process as any
grand jury testimony. The economic espionage statute also comes into play,
But at the same time, the FBI would support legislation to amend the act
to include the type of information industry is worried about. "I would certainly
tend to favor it in the limited area of trade secrets, intellectual property,"
Freeh said. "I would think that's a very fair and traditional area to carve
out protections for."