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Will a New Commitment to Transparency Extend to ACTA?

February 3, 2009 ,

Recently, the United States Trade Representative responded to a request for documents made by PK and EFF under the Freedom of Information Act. We were seeking information on ACTA, including as-yet unreleased draft positions and texts of the agreement.

Initially, we received 159 pages of documents, and now, a draft Vaughn index, indicating that the USTR had found some 1,390 additional pages of documents that matched what we were looking for in our request. Of these, 1,390 will be withheld under various statutory exemptions to the FOIA. Yes, that's all of them.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, the incoming administration issued a memo on the application of FOIA, pledging increased openness and directing the Attorney General to draft new guidelines for agency heads to follow in responding to FOIA requests.

Given that commitment to increased openness, our side has asked the court to stay proceedings in our FOIA suit while the AG drafts these new guidelines and sends them to the USTR. Hopefully this call for more transparent agencies is more than a buzzword, and we might finally see what exactly it is that our government would like to change about its current IP and trade policies.