A fascinating story in today’s New York Times discussing the “weaponization” of the federal Freedom of Information Act and state open records laws. The article discusses the use of the California Public Records Act by an association of private tax preparation companies to obtain e-mails, text messages, voice mail messages and notes created but a University of California Davis professor who has criticized private tax preparation companies, specifically their association with an IRS tax filing program called Free File.
Specifics of the dispute between the professor and the Free File Alliance aside, the article raises several interesting points about the way open records laws are used. It also contains a link to a thought provoking paper on the Freedom of Information Act written by David Pozen in which Professor Pozen argues that FOIA as applied in the modern world is actually a “reactionary” form of transparency. Professor Pozen’s piece is certainly worth a read.