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US states restricting access to more government information in secrecy surge

[JURIST] A new investigatory report by the Associated Press [media website] shows an increasing trend among state legislatures to restrict access to information that was public before the 9/11 attacks. Security concerns were found to be the main driving force for state action, but concerns about identity theft, medical privacy and computer vulnerability to attack also drove legislatures. According to the report all 50 states have enacted legislation that affects public access to government information.

The report found that of 1,023 new laws about public access to government information, 60% closed access. In the last four years, according to AP, "36 states passed more restrictive laws than laws that loosened access; seven states passed more laws that eased barriers to access; seven states passed equal numbers." AP has more.

The growth in state-level restrictions reflects a similar growth in secrecy in the US federal government; a September 2005 report [PDF] by secrecy watchdog Openthegovernment.org [advocacy website] found that secrecy has expanded dramatically in all three branches - including the judiciary [JURIST report] - as authorities have classified documents, closed advisory meetings and approved secret surveillance warrants at an unprecedented rate.

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