Department of Justice Agrees to Respond to Info Request

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it would respond by January 15 to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in August by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and three other advocacy groups, as reported by the Associated Press.

The news comes less than two weeks after the advocacy groups filed a preliminary injunction asking that a federal court order the DOJ to respond immediately to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the groups on October 24. The free expression groups are seeking information on how the government is using the widespread surveillance powers it has been granted under the USA Patriot Act. (For a related article, click here.)

"ABFFE is pleased that the case is moving forward so quickly. FOIA cases can drag on for months, but Judge Huvelle recognizes that this is a matter of great public interest. She is pushing the government to respond as quickly as possible," said ABFFE President Chris Finan.

In an agreement reached Tuesday, November 26, before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, the government said it would tell the groups what documents it would release about increased surveillance in the U.S. under the USA Patriot Act, the AP reported. Additionally, the article noted, the government would supply to the groups a list of documents that it would keep confidential. The groups can challenge the decision to withhold any documents.

The groups that filed the FOIA request are ABFFE, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the American Library Association's Freedom to Read Foundation.