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Cybersecurity Act May Challenge Public's Right to Know

Washington, DC
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

As the Senate prepares to take up The Cybersecurity Act, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on new exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and examined how to balance security with the public's right to know.

Privacy advocates have expressed concerns that The Cybersecurity Act, introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), expands the Homeland Security Department's definition of "critical infrastructure information," exempting additional information from FOIA that is currently protected.

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has vowed to keep FOIA exemptions in the Act as narrow as possible. Previously, Leahy worked on a FOIA exemption for critical infrastructure information in the Defense Authorization bill. 

Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition at the Missouri School of Journalism, testified. He has called for guarantees that The Cybersecurity Act does not give "carte blanche authority for the government to withhold information."

Additional witnesses included Miriam Nisbet, director of Office of Government Information Services at the National Archives and Records Administration; Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy of the Department of Justice; Jerry Ensminger, retired Marine sergeant from Camp Lejeune Marine Base in Elizabethtown, N.C.; and Paul Rosenzweig of Red Branch Consulting PLLC , a professorial lecturer in law at George Washington University and visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 1:08pm (ET)

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