1955 November 7

The Road to FOIA Begins; Rep. Moss Opens Hearings on Government Secrecy

 

Rep. John E. Moss (D–California) began pioneering hearings on government secrecy on this day. Over the next 11 years, he exposed outrageous secrecy policies among many federal agencies, and badgered several presidents on the issue of secrecy in their administrations. His campaign for openness in government eventually led to passage of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on July 4, 1966. Moss is properly regarded as the father of freedom of information in America.

Every state, meanwhile, has enacted a freedom of information or public records law modeled after the federal FOIA, although generally with some variations that make them either stronger or weaker than the federal law. Check out Sunshine Week, which annually celebrates the principle of open records laws, on March 16, 2005.

See also September 28, 2003 for International Right to Know Day.

Read the outstanding new book: Michael Schudson, The Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency, 1945-1975 (2015)

Learn more at the John E. Moss Foundation web site: http://www.johnemossfoundation.org/

Read: Herbert Foerstel, Freedom of Information and the Right to Know: The Origins and Applications of the Freedom of Information Act (1999)

Learn more about FOIA: http://www.foia.gov/

Check out FBI documents released under FOIA: http://vault.fbi.gov/reading-room-index

Learn more about Sunshine Week: http://www.nfoic.org/sunshine-week-2013

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