Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Meet POIA: "Public Means Online" Becomes a Bill

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, March 16 2010

If you were at PdF '09 in New York City, you heard the idea floated that "public means online." In other words, if the law or regulation requires some document or other resource to be "public," you can no longer get away with stuffing it in some filing cabinet that citizens have to make an appointment to go see. You gotta put it online.

Here's a neat development in that space. The Sunlight Foundation just announced this morning that Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) is introducing the Public Online Information Act -- or, naturally, POIA -- today.* In brief, POIA would require that within three years, federal agencies will have switched to the presumption that what they publish is accessible online, and that a federal advisory committee will be established to ensure that "public means online" is an operating principle that all three branches of the federal government abide by. (Using the Freedom of Information Act's shorthand as a guide, the correct pronounciation of POIA should be "poy-ah.")

Sunlight put together the below video to explain the whys and hows of POIA. The bill is expected to head to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by New York Democrat Ed Towns.

*Note: Our Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry are senior advisors to the Sunlight Foundation. And if I'm remembering correctly, it was Andrew who kicked off the thinking on "public means online" at the conference.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

First POST: Patient Zero

Monica Lewinsky emerges with a mission to fight cyber-bullying; Marc Andreessen explains his political philosophy; tech donors to MayDay PAC get pushback from Congressional incumbents; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Front Pagers

How Facebook's trending topics feed is wrecking political news; debating the FBI's need for an encrypted phone "backdoor"; democratizing crisis data; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Tracking

Questions about whether Whisper is secretly tracking its users' secrets; the FBI's continued push against the new wave of encrypted phones; community service, high-tech-mogul-style; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Hosts

Airbnb in hot water in NYC; Knight Prototype Fund backs some civic tech projects; pondering Google's position on net neutrality; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Africa Calling

How some techies are starting to respond to the Ebola crisis; everything you need to know about GamerGate; how Twitter may upset the 2015 UK elections; and much, much more. GO

More