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Cause of Action also points out that the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., recognized a similar watchdog group as a member of the media in a 2003 decision.

“The FTC’s repeated denial of our status as a news media organization threatens all new media and nonprofit news organizations that seek fee waivers for FOIA requests,” Cause of Action president Dan Epstein said in a statement. “Simply because the FTC feared that unfavorable information would be made public, we were unfairly denied access. If every agency behaves like the FTC, it will be devastating to those who fight for government accountability and transparency. The FTC’s job is not to play news editor and decide what is or isn’t news.”

This is the first time a federal appeals court has considered the issue. Because Cause of Action’s appeal will set precedent, the amicus brief argues the case “has implications beyond the outcome for the parties directly involved, and could make it difficult for the news media to fully report on the workings of government for the benefit of the public.”