The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law in 1966. Through this Act, every citizen of the United States gained the right to access information held by the government - the right to obtain copies of federal agency records. The Act was created to "ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed." FOIA affirmed the public's right-to-know about the business of government as a central principle of our democratic government and open society.
In 1996, FOIA was amended to simplify the process to access federal government records. These amendments, known as E-FOIA, also expedited access to records online.
Since 1966, the Freedom of Information Act has been amended six times: in 1974, with minor amendments in 1976, 1978, and 1984, in 1986, and, most recently, in 1996. In each instance, the original Act was broadened to cover more information deemed necessary to ensure the public’s right to know about the activities of the federal government.