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EPIC Prevails in FOIA Case About “Internet Kill Switch”

EPIC [1]
November 13, 2013

In a Freedom of Information Act case brought by EPIC against the Department of Homeland Security, a federal court has ruled [2] that the DHS may not withhold the agency’s plan to deactivate wireless communications networks in a crisis.

EPIC had sought “Standard Operating Procedure 303,” also known as the “internet Kill Switch,” to determine whether the agency’s plan could adversely impact free speech or public safety.

EPIC filed the FOIA lawsuit after the agency failed to produce SOP 303. The federal court determined that the agency wrongly claimed that it could withhold SOP 303 as a “technique for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.”

The phrase, the court explained, “refers only to acts by law enforcement after or during the prevention of a crime, not crime prevention techniques.”

The court repeatedly emphasized that FOIA exemptions are to be read narrowly. For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. DHS (SOP 303) [3] and EPIC: FOIA [4].