New York Freedom of Information

In New York, the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) under PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW, ARTICLE 6 SECTIONS 84-90 guarantees that the public has access to the public records of governmental bodies in New York.  New York’s first such law was passed in 1974.  It was repealed and replaced in 1977 with a significantly changed law.  Important amendments to the law were made in 1982, 2005 and 2008.  The preamble to the 1977 FOIL law says, “the legislature hereby finds that a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public, and when the public is aware of governmental actions.  The more open a government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding and participation of the public in government…The people’s right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society.  Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality.”

A New York Open Meetings Law (OML) was enacted in 1976.  It broadly asserts the right of the public in New York to “be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.”  Pursuant to the law, “it is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.  The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants.  It is the only climate under which the commonweal will prosper and enable the governmental process to operate for the benefit of those who created it.”

 


Inside New York Freedom of Information