Do you understand the Freedom of Information Act? - Technical.ly Delaware

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Aug. 8, 2019 6:39 pm

Do you understand the Freedom of Information Act?

"Everyone has the same right to information as journalists and lawyers": Open Data Delaware is hosting a panel on what info you have the right to know and how to access it on Aug. 15.

CompassRed's Ryan Harrington, Aru Deshmukh, Jeff Headley and Pooja Kaji

(Photo by Holly Quinn)

Now that CompassRed has relocated from a small office at The Mill to the sprawling 605 Market St. location — what used to be CoIN Loft — it finally has the space to hold panels and meetups.

It’s a good setup, since CompassRed is intrinsically related to Open Data Delaware — ODD cofounder Ryan Harrington leads CompassRed’s data science team, and ODD, with its coding meetups and other events, is extremely community focused. (A weekly Code & Coffee remains based at Brandywine Library.)

On Aug. 15, CompassRed (sometimes known as the CompassRed Data Loft) will host its second event: “Your Right to Know: Three Experts Discuss the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),” a panel featuring three local experts to discuss FOIA in detail and answer questions from the community.

“People think of FOIA as something used by journalists, and it is,” said Harrington, in an interview with Technical.ly. “But everyone has the same right to information as journalists and lawyers.”

For one thing, accessing information under FOIA can help you become a better advocate, both for yourself as a private citizen, and for your business.

“One example is the Rodney Square bus stops, and how moving them affected a lot of people in the city,” Harrington said. “Knowing your rights to information can help you advocate for yourself.”

In that example, a group of citizens called the Coalition to Restore the Rodney Square Bus Hub, attempted a FOIA request for Federal Transit Administration emails in 2017.

Navigating FOIA can be complicated, as the Rodney Square Bus activists learned.

The free panel will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15, featuring:

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  • Doug Denison, director of community relations, DE Department of State
  • Jeanne Kuang, Wilmington reporter, The News Journal
  •  Robert Scoglietti, director of policy and external affairs, FOIA coordinator, Office of Management and Budget
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Read our recap of CompassRed’s first event in July, an overview of the California Consumer Privacy Law.

Pat Strickler (CompassRed), Prof. Matthew Schneider (Drexel University), William Denny, Esq. (Potter Anderson & Corroon), and Aru Deshmukh (CompassRed) at the GDPR panel in July.

CompassRed’s GDPR panel in July. (Courtesy photo)

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