The Foibles of FOIA

This week I received a request at work for information that has me wondering how US citizens and in particular Illinois citizens would feel about the results of our new FOIA law. This particular FOIA request ended up taking way too much time from other more pressing matters. However based on the new law, we had to immediately address and handle it regardless of what might be considered more important by our city and citizens.

The request was commercial in nature, and while I tried to send what we had related to the request, in the end, I could not send the actual data they wanted because it was exempted under the law. Finally after I had sent the final email in a series of many that stated the denial of the request, I received the form that I had been asking for all along to verify the commercial status of the request. From the form, I discovered this person was in Romania. This is when I realized they had been asking for information we had spent our citizens' money producing for the benefit of our city so that they could launch a website to make money off our data. The citizens of our city paid me to put their needs and concerns aside to instead devote my attention to someone in Romania. And in the end, the Romanian citizen did not receive what they wanted anyway. 

I realize there is the argument that government should be sharing data to help create and sustain jobs. But what I wondered was does this extend to other countries? How do our citizens feel about allowing people in other countries make money off work that has been produced with US tax dollars? And has our economy and country become so globally oriented that this really isn't an issue?