After the courts laid out the conditions in which the government can compel email providers to turn over users’ private messages, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wondered if the FBI was applying similar guidelines to text messages. So the group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Justice Department.
In April the organization received an answer that complied with the letter of the law but was almost comically unhelpful. The file contained a memo header, “Guidance for the Minimization of Text Messages over Dual-Function Cellular Telephones,” followed by 15 pages that were completely blacked out. The document “does not even show the date, let alone what the policy is,” ACLU spokesperson Josh Bell told ABC News.
When Barack Obama took office, he declared that his presidency would herald “an unprecedented level of openness in government.” This February, he stuck to his guns during a Google Hangout: “This is the most transparent administration in history.”