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National Freedom of Information Day is observed on March 16, 2018 to recognize the public’s right to information held by government agencies. Freedom of Information Day is an annual event held on the birthday of James Madison, one of our founding fathers.

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S. Code sec. 552 et seq.) was passed in 1966, and it was followed by regulations issued by federal agencies to implement the law.  The regulations indicate what type of information is kept, how to make requests, and the appeal process in the event a request is denied.  Under certain exemptions agencies are allowed to withhold records such as classified materials and personnel files.  In some instances, agencies may make a partial disclosure.  For more information about the federal laws, go to the Department of Justice .

For Massachusetts state specific information, see the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries’ webpage, Massachusetts law about freedom of information and public records. This includes the newest changes to public records law in Massachusetts, regulations and guidelines, selected case law, forms for a freedom of information request letter, and other useful resources online and in print.

“A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; And a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”    – James Madison, 1822

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