Freedom of Information Day 2016: Meaning and History of the Ironically Timely Holiday

Freedom of Information Day 2016: Meaning and History of the Ironically Timely Holiday
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Not only is March 16 the birthday of the fourth president of the United States, James Madison, but it also marks National Freedom of Information Day — and an open government was held very dear to Madison's presidency. The holiday is a yearly reminder of the importance of transparency in the American government and the public's right to information. 

For Madison, who was president from 1809 to 1817, openness in the future of the American government was of the utmost importance. A constant advocate for free speech and transparency, the "Father of the Constitution" helped draft the living and breathing document, as well as helped author the U.S. Bill of Rights. 

Read more: Arizona Republicans Are Trying to Pass a Bill to Decrease Police Brutality Transparency

This year, National Freedom of Information Day falls on the heels of a historic and unprecedented request from the FBI to Apple to unlock one of the iPhones used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, as well as several other devices. More importantly, the holiday can be used to highlight the erosion of privacy, the hidden mass surveillance used against U.S. citizens and how the government itself may no longer be as open and transparent as it was in James Madison's time. 

The holiday was created by national radio talk show host named Jim Bohannon according to National Day Calendar, and is recognized by several U.S. government websites, though it's not considered a federal holiday.

In honor of the holiday dedicated to transparency, read more about former President Madison's path to creating an open government here, as well as a plethora of online resources and information surrounding the U.S. government on the USA.Gov site.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Chris Riotta

Chris Riotta is a culture reporter at Mic, covering news, music and entertainment. He is based in New York and can be reached at criotta@mic.com

MORE FROM

New White House communications director Scaramucci says press briefings should be on-camera

If the new White House communications director gets his way, the press briefings could soon be recorded once again.

At least 8 dead, 30 injured in locked tractor trailer outside Walmart in Texas

Authorities told press that the deaths were caused by "a human trafficking crime."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

New White House communications director Scaramucci says press briefings should be on-camera

If the new White House communications director gets his way, the press briefings could soon be recorded once again.

At least 8 dead, 30 injured in locked tractor trailer outside Walmart in Texas

Authorities told press that the deaths were caused by "a human trafficking crime."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.