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Democracy is defined as being a type of government in which all citizens have a voice and a role in the making of decisions that will affect all the citizens. Citizens living in a country with a democratic form of government have a responsibility to participate in the creation and execution of the laws governing that country through becoming informed about issues being addressed by the government, forming and expressing opinions about the means of dealing with those issues that will be most beneficial for the country as a whole, and abiding by the decisions made by the government.
In order to become fully informed, citizens need to have access to all pertinent information about any given issue.
In the words of former president James Madison, “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.” This connection between information and participation in the process of government is the basis for the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The Freedom of Information Act sets out the requirements regarding types of information that must be made available for public knowledge, the procedures that must be followed to request such information, the reasons why some types of information can be kept out of public record, and the period of time for which some information may be kept secret before it becomes available to the general public.
Citizens need to have access to complete information in order to make informed decisions. Without the FOIA, it would be much easier for corrupt individuals to commit crimes that would never be revealed because all record of the crimes could be hidden.
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