Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Electronic Access to Information: Recent Developments

Since last week, there have been two noteworthy developments that concern federal agency practices with respect to electronic information. First, on July 22, the General Accountability Office (GAO) published testimony about challenges that federal agencies face in using Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., agencies' presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube). In brief, the challenges that GAO identified included (1) determining how the Privacy Act applies to information exchanged in the use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking sites; (2)determining how to appropriately limit collection and use of personal information and how and when to extend privacy protections to information collected and used by third-party providers of Web 2.0 services; (3) safeguarding personal information from security threats; (4)government identification and preservation of federal records; and (5) appropriately responding to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Second, on July 26, at a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the Federal Register, the Archivist of the United States and the Director of the Federal Register unveiled Federal Register 2.0. According to a National Archives press release, Federal Register 2.0 is "a new user-friendly version of the daily online Federal Register" accessible at

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