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Justice Department sued for old computers slowing FOIA requests

Engadget Engadget 18/07/2016 Ben Woods
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A researcher who specializes in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is suing the Justice Department for using really, really old computers to fulfil requests for information.

Ryan Shapiro says that the use of "decades old" computers constitutes "failure by design", and that it refuses to use a far more capable $425 million system that could speed up the process, The Guardian reports.

Under FOIA rules, requests have to be handled in a timely manner and the DOJ must make "reasonable efforts" to actually find the information, rather than just say they've looked for it and couldn't find it, which Shapiro says has been an all-too frequent occurrence.

An earlier case brought by Shapiro found that the FBI had unlawfully restricted access to information, and that when FOIA requests are made, documents aren't even subject to a full-text search, which would likely explain the inability to find the files. In its defense, the FBI said that non-disclosure of documents that provide details about previously unknown law enforcement techniques was allowed under an exemption to FOIA. It seems the judge disagreed in that instance.The Guardian

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