Rep. Steve Israel reintroduces Public Online Information Act


Sunlight Foundation has supported POIA since it was originally introduced. This video, made in 2010, explains why.
On Thursday, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., reintroduced the Public Online Information Act (POIA) as H.R. 5839. Sunlight has been a supporter of POIA since 2010, when Israel, along with Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., first introduced the transparency legislation. If enacted, the bill would enshrine into law the simple, transformative principle that in the 21st century, public means online.

POIA would require executive branch agencies to do what Sunlight has been urging them to do since its founding: Frequently publish information online in an open format. As in earlier versions of the POIA, the bill would also establish an advisory committee to help develop governmentwide publication policies and provide the public with a limited right of action, similar to the rights enjoyed by the people under the Freedom of Information Act.

In practice, that means government information that does not meet a standard of foreseeable harm should be proactively disclosed and accessible to the people wherever and whenever they are through an internet connection.

POIA provides a useful legislative vehicle to codify an important principle into law: making information public means putting it online. If paired with the OPEN Government Data Act, the DATA Act and the recently enacted reforms to the FOIA, these bills would fundamentally shift the nation further toward a government of the people in which data collected and created with taxpayers dollars is published online by default.