The Freedom of Information Law allows any person to request and obtain, without explanation or justification, existing, identifiable, and unpublished governmental records, including documents, data, and video. Signed into law in New York in 1974, FOIL remains a powerful public panacea in unlocking information and maintaining vital transparency in our state government. Databases detailing public employee compensation, online viewing of highway department agreements and school district superintendents' contracts, and text message exchanges--all disclosed and made public through FOIL requests--are now common, as the last decade has ushered in an increased demand for public information.
Orzechowski guides readers through the creation of the law and the concept of open government in the twenty-first century, offering a foundational understanding of how the legislation works, who is exempt, and how the law was created for every citizen of New York State. Dozens of perspectives--from state senators to a Pulitzer Prize winner to watchdog organizations--outline the impact of New York State's law. Orzechowski examines the drafting of current legislation to strengthen the existing law and offers perspectives from those who are confronted with the real challenges of accessing public information every day: journalists, attorneys, and citizens. This exploration of FOIL, including narrative, scholarly examination, and how-to guides, serves as a tour of a law that continues to impact residents across the state.