FOIA Request

Status
Not open for further replies.

qjschum

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 27, 2013
Messages
235
Location
Bismarck, ND
This is not a rant about Encryption. I am just wondering who has done an FOIA to listen to Encrypted traffic.
 

Citywide173

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 18, 2005
Messages
1,936
Location
Attleboro, MA
FOIA requests are for records/documents. They could only be used to obtain the recorded copies of the radio traffic, not the live traffic. The "reasonable" cost of copying the files/tapes would also have to be paid by the person making the request. On top of this, FOIA requires that the person making the request have a legitimate reason for the records to be released-"I'm a citizen, and my taxes pay for the system" is not enough. FOIA does not, and will never apply to live broadcasts.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
That makes no sense to me. Freedom of Information Act request for encrypted transmission? What is FOIA suppose to do, send you audio files or transcripts, or give you a radio, or the tech? Unless otherwise authorized to do so, trying to hack or listen in on USA encrypted transmissions is illegal anyway. Me, I stay away from anything that isn't "open".
 

Citywide173

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 18, 2005
Messages
1,936
Location
Attleboro, MA
That makes no sense to me. Freedom of Information Act request for encrypted transmission? What is FOIA suppose to do, send you audio files or transcripts, or give you a radio, or the tech? Unless otherwise authorized to do so, trying to hack or listen in on USA encrypted transmissions is illegal anyway. Me, I stay away from anything that isn't "open".
While not under FOIA, many encrypted systems allow receive only radios for the media. usually, these radios are leased from the agency, or purchased by the media outlet and programmed by the agency. It would not be unreasonable under those circumstances to make a claim that since the media is afforded access to the system, citizens should also be afforded the same opportunity, under the same guidelines that the media are limited to. Just because it isn't "open" isn't a reason to completely disregard legitimate attempts to access a system, or to make the original poster appear nefarious.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
It would not be unreasonable under those circumstances to make a claim that since the media is afforded access to the system, citizens should also be afforded the same opportunity....
Seems to me that would defeat the point of encryption. But thanks for the explanation.
 

Citywide173

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Feb 18, 2005
Messages
1,936
Location
Attleboro, MA
Seems to me that would defeat the point of encryption. But thanks for the explanation.
You truncated my comment. It should be "same opportunity under the same guidelines", meaning the citizen would have to meet the requirements of and comply with any background checks, agreements to how the information can be utilized, etc. that are placed on media use of the radio. I never meant to imply that it would be easy, just that there are some arguments that can still be made. The media should NEVER be granted more access to anything than an everyday citizen has.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
0
Location
Virginia
I can only imagine the logistical nightmare, and expense, to give someone such vetting. All just to listen in on communications that likely isn't of any value or concern to the scanner hobbyist.

I know, people want to make sure the good guys really are. And that's difficult without the same hardware and the ability to fact-check. Which is about the only reason I can imagine the point of the original post was.

I'm sure it's not nefarious. Perhaps he can come back with the intent, even if it's not possible to cull such info from FOIA.
 

zz0468

QRT
Banned
Joined
Feb 6, 2007
Messages
6,036
...On top of this, FOIA requires that the person making the request have a legitimate reason for the records to be released-"I'm a citizen, and my taxes pay for the system" is not enough. FOIA does not, and will never apply to live broadcasts.
I am aware of citizens filing FOIA requests "just because", and having their requests granted. If an agency is requiring further justification to grant a request, it's possible that they are not fully complying with the law. From the FOIA.gov webpage: "The general rule is that any person – citizen or not – can make a FOIA request." Also, FOIA applies to Federal agencies, not state of local.
 
Last edited:

QDP2012

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2012
Messages
1,929
I believe each state would have to enact it's own version of a FOIA. Your example in Virginia, for example, would be useless for someone requesting information from the state of California.
Certainly. The Virginia FOIA example was simply to show that states do have FOIA or equivalent laws, that the federal law wasn't the only FOIA-type law.

A quick internet search listed several places where information on California's FOIA-type laws can be found including:

Hope this helps,
 

k1agh

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
May 8, 2012
Messages
414
Location
Maine
Some states have "sunshine laws" which are open records requests like FOIA. I do believe that an FOIA would be useless because the federal law has 9 exemptions and at least of them deal with law enforcement and national security or national secrets.
 

N9JIG

Sheriff
Moderator
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Messages
4,532
Location
Far NW Valley
Most (if not all) states have some sort of Sunshine or FOIA laws, some geared more towards the requester than others. There usually is no need to explain the reason for the request unless it is challenged by the agency affected as onerous or beyond what is required by statute.

As for using FOIA to gain real-time access to encrypted communications, it would be ineffective. For one, the agency has specific time windows in which to answer a request, so that by its very nature would negate any real-time access. In addition, most FOIA statutes allow for denial of requests for law enforcement operations and tactical information such as encryption codes. FOIA does not require the provision of hardware as well.

As far as media access to encrypted communications via a provided radio, this also is not required under most state statutes, rather is provided as a courtesy and can be reclaimed at any time. Some places may have had provision of radios written into enabling or funding legislation but it is separate from FOIA or Sunshine laws.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top