State sunshine laws are the laws in each state that govern public access to governmental records. These laws are sometimes known as open records laws or public records laws, and are also collectively referred to as FOIA laws, after the United States Freedom of Information Act.
The freedom of a nation cannot be upheld by laws alone, but also by the light of the nation and knowledge of their use.
- Anders Chydenius, 1763
United States Freedom of Information Act
5 U.S.C. § 552
Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.