DHS Launches eFOIA App

DHS Launches eFOIA App

The Department of Homeland Security has launched a new mobile app in an effort to further simplify and enhance the process for submitting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The eFOIA app is the latest in a series of efforts that the DHS Privacy Office has taken to help modernize FOIA processes and improve the customer experience. In fact, this is the first FOIA mobile app in the entire Federal Government.

Using their mobile devices, requesters can now submit requests and check the status of existing requests anyplace, anytime.

Key features of the new eFOIA app allow users to:

  • Submit a FOIA request to any DHS Component
  • Check the status of FOIA requests
  • Access all of the content on the FOIA website, including the FOIA Library
  • Receive updates, changes to events–such as stakeholder meetings/conference calls held by the Department, and recently published documents

The app allows you to do a bunch of things that you could already do on the internet: It was already possible to learn how to make a FOIA request online using a simple form at DHS.gov or regulations.gov, check the status of a request, browse the DHS FOIA library or read about exemptions using a mobile web browser.

DHS has chosen to make a new mobile app instead of just simply making any of the current FOIA webpages responsive to the device accessing them. Additionally, the app has a challenging keyboard which makes inputting information difficult and does not retain records or information.

“The app’s permissions, at least on the Android store, state that it requires access to your approximate location,” said Adam Marshall, the Jack Nelson Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Marshall works on the committee’s iFOIA request system.

“There is absolutely zero reason for the DHS to have access to the location of my phone, and I’m not going to install an app from the federal government that allows for that functionality. FOIA is designed to ensure that the public knows what the government is up to, not the other way around.”

For now, this looks like another diagnosis of “shiny app syndrome.” A government agency is spending taxpayer dollars on mobile apps instead of making websites mobile-friendly, investing in proactively disclosing the most frequently requested documents or employing more FOIA officers to handle the record-setting load.




About The Author

Chad Brandt

Chad M. Brandt, the People’s Immigration Lawyer, is the owner and founder of Brandt Immigration. Attorney Brandt has extensive litigation experience, allowing him to successfully represent clients in Immigration and Federal Courts. Mr. Brandt devotes a substantial portion of his immigration practice to deportation defense, both in Immigration Court and before deportation officers at Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) Detention and Removal Offices throughout the U.S. Mr. Brandt also regularly represents individuals, families, and businesses in an expansive array of interviews and appearances before immigration officials.

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