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Rubio, Cotton Introduce Bill to Prevent Foreign Entities from Exploiting FOIA Process

Jun 14, 2022 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced the FOIA Fix Act. The bill would fix an existing loophole in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that allows foreign individuals, entities, and governments to submit a FOIA request. Prohibiting foreign actors from submitting FOIA requests would put American requests first while preventing government information, including potentially sensitive technology research, from being shared with hostile foreign regimes. In addition to reducing the massive backlog of pending requests, the bill would also decrease the taxpayer dollars spent on processing foreign FOIA requests.
 
“It makes no sense that malign foreign entities can use our laws to access sensitive government information, all while thousands of U.S. citizens continue to wait for their FOIA requests to be answered,” Rubio said. “FOIAs should be used to inform American citizens, not foreign entities. My common-sense bill will correct this glaring loophole.”
 
“The Chinese Communist Party and other foreign entities shouldn’t have access to sensitive government information,” Cotton said. “Our bill will prioritize American requests and prevent our adversaries from stockpiling U.S. government information.”
 
Specifically, the FOIA Fix Act would: 

  • Direct agencies to promulgate rules limiting FOIA requests to (1) U.S. citizens, (2) aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and (3) entities with a principal place of business or headquarters in a State, the District of Columbia, or territory of the U.S.;
  • Prohibit domestic subsidiaries from making a FOIA request if the controlling company has its principal place of business or headquarters located in China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, or any other country or nation-state determined by the U.S. Department of State as posing a threat; and
  • Impose a criminal penalty on any individual that knowingly assists an otherwise prohibited individual from making a FOIA request.