TechCrunch and The Daily Dot report that the FBI will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by email starting next month.
- FBI axes FOIA requests by email, so dust off your fax machine, by Taylor Hatmaker TechCrunch (Feb 6, 2017).
- FBI will revert to using fax machines, snail mail for FOIA requests, by Dell Cameron The Daily Dot (Feb 6, 2017)
The FBI FOIA page still says that “you may submit a FOIA request by e-mail, fax, standard mail, or through eFOIPA, the FBI’s electronic FOIPA portal” but the request page has no instructions for emailing requests.
The Bureau’s “eFOIPA portal” does provide a way of submitting requests electronically, but the Terms of Service state that “Not all requests can be fulfilled using the eFOIPA system” and that “Requests for fee waivers will require additional documentation.” The Terms also place other limitations on the types of submissions that can be placed electronically. The Daily Dot report notes that:
Much of the information the FBI now requests from users also appears unnecessary under the law. For instance, it asks users to identify whether the request is being filed inside the U.S. or from another country. Nowhere in the federal statute does it say requesters should provide the FBI with their physical address.
In addition, users of the portal are limited to “one request per day and one request per submission” by the Terms of Service. The Daily Dot notes that there is no legal basis to those restrictions.