Twitter DMs (Department of Homeland Security)

Emma Best filed this request with the Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2017-HQFO-00433
Due March 28, 2017
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Copies of all Twitter Direct Messages sent to or from any Agency Twitter accounts.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: US DHS Privacy Office

Good afternoon,
Attached is our acknowledgment of your DHS FOIA request.  If you need to contact this office again concerning your request, please provide the DHS reference number. This will enable us to quickly retrieve the information you are seeking and reduce our response time. This office can be reached at 866-431-0486.
Regards,
DHS Privacy Office Disclosure & FOIA Program
STOP 0655
Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20528-0655
Telephone:  1-866-431-0486 or 202-343-1743
Fax:  202-343-4011
Visit our
FOIA website (http://www.dhs.gov/foia)

From: Michael Best

Respectfully, I absolutely did provide "sufficient detail to enable government employees who are familiar with the subject
area to locate records." These records are simple to locate.

From: FOIA

Good Morning,

Thank you for contacting the DHS Privacy Office. This case has been administratively closed because you did not respond to our request for more information within 30 business days.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: FOIA

Good Morning,

Thank you for contacting the DHS Privacy Office. This case has been administratively closed because you did not respond to our request for more information within 30 business days.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: FOIA

Good Morning,

Thank you for contacting the DHS Privacy Office. This case has been administratively closed because you did not respond to our request for more information within 30 business days.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: FOIA

Good Morning,

Thank you for contacting the DHS Privacy Office. This case has been administratively closed because you did not respond to our request for more information within 30 business days.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: Michael Best

I DID respond within that time frame, and I can prove it. It is documented at: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/twitter-dms-department-of-homeland-security-33748/?#comm-345141

Please re-open and process my response and the request.

From: FOIA

Good morning Michael,

Yes, you are correct. You sent a response within the timeframe, but the response did not address the Privacy Office’s need for a narrower scope. Responding with “I absolutely did provide sufficient detail to enable government employees who are familiar with the subject area to locate records - these records are simple to locate.” not only does not clarify the request, but it is frankly quite rude.

I would like to explain to you why these records are not so easy to locate.

1) Your request states “Twitter Direct Messages sent to or from any Agency Twitter accounts”

a. Which agencies?

b. Do you mean just components within DHS, like CBP?

c. Or do you mean agencies that are outside DHS, like DOJ, DEA, DOD? There are almost 20 Agencies in the Executive Branch alone.

d. Within each agency are components, for example, in the Executive Office of the President, there are 78 individual Offices.

This is what we call “overly broad”. Per §5.3(b) of the DHS regulations, 6 C.F.R. Part 5, you, the requester, must provide as much information as possible. This was stated in our original letter to you requesting more information.

2) “Direct Messages to or from any Agency”

a. Any Direct Message from a private citizen to “an Agency” would not be released in full. The citizen’s Twitter handle would be blacked out because there is a reasonable expectation of privacy within private messages.

3) “Direct Messages” since when?

a. For months? Since the agency’s twitter handle was created?

Many of these points were listed in the original letter we sent you requesting greater detail. The FOIA does not require an agency to answer questions posed by requesters or attempt to interpret a request that does not identify specific records. So sir, when we ask you for more information, it is not to be difficult, it is so that we can perform a proper search. Please keep this in mind moving forward.

Respectfully,

Catherine Pruitt
FOIA Analyst
TechOp Solutions Contractor
DHS Privacy Office

From: Michael Best

Hello.

1) Your request states “Twitter Direct Messages sent to or from any Agency Twitter accounts”

a. Which agencies?

DHS only, obviously, since anything else is outside your jurisdiction. This shouldn't require you asking, it's obvious and even if I wanted anything other than DHS it would be non-responsive to your office.

b. Do you mean just components within DHS, like CBP?

DHS and all components within it.

c. Or do you mean agencies that are outside DHS, like DOJ, DEA, DOD? There are almost 20 Agencies in the Executive Branch alone.

Obviously, I meant only those within DHS as those are the only ones responsive to your office.

d. Within each agency are components, for example, in the Executive Office of the President, there are 78 individual Offices.

Any official Twitter account maintained by DHS or its components.

2) “Direct Messages to or from any Agency”

a. Any Direct Message from a private citizen to “an Agency” would not be released in full. The citizen’s Twitter handle would be blacked out because there is a reasonable expectation of privacy within private messages.

Thank you for informing me that exemptions would apply and redactions would exist. This, however, isn't news to me and has nothing to do with your claim that the request was overly broad.

3) “Direct Messages” since when?

All time.

All of these points were addressed in my original request. Your attempt to interpret my request as well beyond the scope of your Agency is ridiculous. The time frame was unlimited, and there is no need for me to limit it.

Finally, "Many of these points were listed in the original letter we sent you requesting greater detail." is simply and blatantly not true. The full text of the original letter you sent me is at https://d3gn0r3afghep.cloudfront.net/foia_files/2017/02/27/Ack_-_NMI_Not_Reasonably_Described_GBfxTMm.pdf and it confirms that NONE of these points were raised - you sent a form letter.

Please proceed with the search.

From: Michael Best

Please confirm receipt of the email sent earlier today, and clarify the status of my request. If it is closed, I request formal determination and notification of this and that you advise me of my right to appeal, as required by statute and case law.

From: Michael Best

Shall I take your failure to respond as an acknowledgment that you will not be proceeding with the request or providing formal notice or advising me of my right to appeal?

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the decision to close the request on the basis, which DHS now admits is false, that I didn't respond in time. I am also appealing the determination that I need to specify that I meant to request records from the Agency I requested records from. I am also appealing the determination that "all" is vague when it comes to time periods or components of DHS. I am also appealing the decision to not provide me with formal notice that the request was closed. I am also appealing the decision to not advise me of my right to appeal. I am also appealing the decision that I was "quite rude" by quoting the DHS' letter and disagreeing with it. I am also appealing the decision that the original letter raised many of the points later provided for "clarification." I am also appealing the determination that a b(6) privacy exemption would make it more difficult to search for the records. I am also appealing every other adverse decision associated with the request.

From: FOIA

Good Afternoon Mr. Best,

I apologize for the confusion but we received your appeal for request 2017-HQFO-00433. Your request is not closed and we are still processing it according to FOIA policy so there is no need for the appeal. If we have any questions about the request the specialist working on it will reach out to you. Thank you.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: FOIA

Good Afternoon Mr. Best,

We are still processing your request. If additional information is needed we will reach out to you. Thank you.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: FOIA

Good Afternoon Mr. Best,

We are still processing your request. If additional information is needed we will reach out to you. Thank you.
Regards,
The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011

From: FOIA

Good Morning Mr. Best,

We are still processing your request. If additional information is needed we will reach out to you. Thank you.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: FOIA

Good afternoon Mr. Best,

We are still processing your request. If additional information is needed we will reach out to you. Thank you.

Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

This communication, along with any attachments, is covered by federal and state law governing electronic communications and may contain confidential and legally privileged information. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, use or copying of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please reply immediately to the sender and delete this message. Thank you

From: FOIA

Good Morning,

Thank you for contacting the DHS Privacy Office. We apologize for the delay, but we are still processing your request 2017-HQFO-00433. We are working as expeditiously as possible.

Thank you!
Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

From: Department of Homeland Security

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for contacting the DHS Privacy Office. We apologize for the delay, but we are still processing your request 2017-HQFO-00433. We are working as expeditiously as possible.

Thank you!
Regards,

The Privacy Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane SW
STOP-0655
Washington, D.C. 20528-0655
Phone: 202-343-1743 or 866-431-0486
Fax: 202-343-4011
E-mail: foia@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:foia@hq.dhs.gov>

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