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Second Circuit Review: Updating FOIA’s Framework For Disclosing Electronic Records

February 21, 2023

Litigation of counsel Martin Flumenbaum and firm Chairman Brad Karp’s latest Second Circuit Review column, “Updating FOIA’s Framework For Disclosing Electronic Records,” appeared in the February 21 issue of the New York Law Journal. The authors discuss a recent decision in ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement in which the court revisited the thorny question of when a federal agency must manipulate an electronic database in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Second Circuit’s unanimous decision clarifies that when an agency discloses records, FOIA requires that it also provide a means for the public to access those records in the same way that is available to the agency. Litigants can use this decision in the future to advocate for broader disclosure by arguing that, even if some records held in electronic databases are exempt from disclosure, the government must take additional steps to ensure that the nonexempt information remains accessible. Litigation associate Matthew Disler assisted in the preparation of this column.

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