FOIA Request to DOJ Yields Expansively Redacted Response

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 11, 2013

ABCNews: “The Department of Justice complied with the letter of the law and responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from the ACLU seeking insight into the Obama Administration’s policy on intercepting text messages from cell phones. But — it didn’t release any actual information. Or even any words or letters. As one Reddit comment put it, “[the document is] so transparent it’s completely invisible.” Instead, the Justice Department released 15 pages that were entirely redacted, shaded over in heavy black from top to bottom. All that was visible is the subject of the memo: “Guidance for the Minimization of Text Messages over Dual-Function Cellular Telephones” It is all part of a larger legal battle between civil rights activists and the federal law enforcement about electronic communications. The ACLU has argued that current government surveillance practices on electronic communications violate citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights, which are meant to protect Americans from unlawful searches and seizures. With the FOIA request they were trying to determine if the FBI had properly complied with a 2010 appeals court decision that concerned when email providers must turn over messages to law enforcement and whether the guidelines apply to text messages.”

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