Court Says Metadata Should Be Released Under Freedom Of Information Act Request
from the commence-metadata-scrubbing dept
Copycense points us to the fascinating news that a federal judge has ordered Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reveal the metadata on a document as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. ICE had responded to the FOIA request (apparently “after significant delay,”) but provided the content requested in an unsearchable PDF. The original requestor for the content, the National Day Laborer Organization, complained that this was unfair, and the information had to be supplied with metadata — and the court agreed. The court also agreed that making the PDF unsearchable was not justified:
“Metadata maintained by the agency as a part of an electronic record is presumptively producible under FOIA, unless the agency demonstrates that such metadata is not ‘readily producible.'”
Sounds like some government employees are going to need to spend the next few weeks scrubbing metadata from documents. Wouldn’t want people to find out who really wrote various laws by looking at the metadata on Word docs, would we?
As for the unsearchable format, the judge slammed ICE for clearly going out of its way to make the document “more difficult or burdensome for the requesting party to use,” in violation of standard discover rules. Nice to see that ICE has the time to purposely obfuscate records requested in a FOIA. Transparency in action…