March 16 is Freedom of Information Day. It is a day to commemorate people who have worked for the public’s right to know and to reinforce that right in our own lives.


The Freedom of Information Act was suggested by John Moss, a Democrat elected to Congress in 1952 during the secrecy of the Cold War. He believed that “the present trend toward government secrecy could end in a dictatorship. The more information that is made available, the greater will be the nation’s security.”


He worked for more than a decade to finally have FOIA passed and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966.


Johnson said, “A democracy works best when the people have all the information that the security of the nation permits. No one should be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the public interest.”


According to the Freedom of Information Act website, this act “provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information except to the extent the records are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions contained in the law.”

See the FOIA website for further details.


Freedom of information is a concern to many people. Here are a few quotes to show the concern:


“Democracy Dies in Darkness.”  —motto of The Washington Post, adopted in 2017


“The overarching purpose of access to information legislation…is to facilitate democracy. It helps to ensure first, that citizens have the information required to participate meaningfully in the democratic process, and secondly, that politicians and bureaucrats remain accountable to the citizenry.”  —Gerard LaForest, Supreme Court Justice of Canada in Dogg vs. Canada


“The right to know is the right to live.” Aruna Roy, Indian political and social activist


“The basic purpose of FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed.” –United States Supreme Court in NLRB v. Robbins Tire Co.


Now more than ever, we need to protect the people’s right to know. Keep questioning. Keep pursuing answers.