Archives for July 2015

TechDirt – Lawsuit Filed After Export-Import Bank Official Swears He ‘Accidentally’ Deleted All Of His Responsive Text Messages

Read the full story: Tech Dirt

Sure, Freedom of Information laws are great, but they have their downsides. For one thing, they clearly signal to agencies which records are being sought. It’s unavoidable. To answer a request, an agency needs to know what it’s looking for. Once the request is out in the open, efforts can begin in earnest to excise information anyone affected doesn’t want made public.   I’m not saying anyone did anything wrong, but it very definitely looks like someone did something deliberately wrong.  A top official at a controversial U.S. export finance agency deleted text messages sent within days of the 2014 midterm elections after a watchdog group filed an open records request for the messages, the agency admitted recently.

The watchdog group — Cause of Action — sought “text messages, Blackberry messenger chats and SMS messages sent or received by top officials during the period of days between November 2, 2014 and November 8, 2014.” These would be texts fired back and forth during the mid-term elections by officials of the controversial US Export-Import Bank, which was facing the reality of having its funding halted by House Republicans.   Cause of Action got most of what it sought… several months later. It filed the request on November 20, 2014 but didn’t receive a response until May 12, 2015. That response brought with it the following bad news:  [T]he messages for Scott P. Schloegel were accidently deleted on approximately January 1, 2015. Enclosed is signed declaration from Mr. Schloegel attesting to the deletion.