"As the General Counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Mr. Sobel is a
key litigator on the Freedom of Information Act"
Washington -- The American Library Association (ALA) is honored to present the 2004 James Madison Award to David Sobel, the General Counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The Madison Award, named for President James Madison, was established in 1986 and is presented annually on the anniversary of his birth. The award honors those who have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information and the public's right to know.
By exhibiting persistent and creative leadership in litigating cases, David Sobel has increased the pressure on the courts to keep government agencies open and accountable to the public. As the General Counsel for EPIC, he is a key litigator on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). His work in EPIC v. DOD has strengthened public access to government information, by helping to reaffirm the viability of 'representative of the media' status for non-profit educational organizations that disseminate information to the public. He has also led the effort to obtain documents about the misuse of JetBlue and Northwest air passenger data, which has underscored the importance of open government not only in the United States, but also in Europe, where such disclosures will contribute to greater government oversight.
"David Sobel is a tireless and courageous advocate for openness and public disclosure of government information, and in his work has continuously defended what James Madison would often refer to as the 'liberty of learning,' said ALA President Dr. Carla Hayden. "Because libraries can only prosper in an environment of openness and free access to information, those who work so hard to protect and defend such rights, like David Sobel, live up to the true spirit of liberty that the Madison Award was established to honor," she concluded.
Information found on EPIC's Web-site, "Former Secrets - Documents Released Under the FOIA," validates the importance of FOIA and of its use by dedicated advocates of openness. The site includes documents that the government would prefer to remain veiled in secrecy, including one on how the FBI's 'Carnivore' Internet Surveillance System interfered with an anti-terrorism investigation involving Osama Bin Laden.
James Madison Quote, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it. For freedom is a virtuous right to be vigilantly defended generation after generation, if we are to remain in the future what we seek to be in the light of the present -- a free and honorable people."