The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking documents behind a controversial take-down of thousands of university videos last spring. In March, the University of California at Berkeley removed over 20,000 online educational videos after DOJ claimed that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to allegedly inadequate captions.
In a FOIA request filed shortly after the take-down, CEI asked for documents relating to this and similar DOJ investigations. DOJ essentially denied the request, and CEI’s lawsuit challenges that denial.
“It is absurd for the Justice Department to claim that virtually no documents related to this investigation exist, just as it was absurd for the Justice Department to tell Berkeley it was in violation of the American Disabilities Act,” said CEI attorney Hans Bader. “The only violations we see here are of FOIA and the First Amendment, because the DOJ effectively cut off the flow of information to willing listeners.”
The Berkeley videos provided an important service not only to students and the general public, but to many individuals with disabilities. However, because these videos could not be accessed by everyone, the DOJ filed a complaint with Berkeley under the ADA, and now no one has access to this material.