Monday, February 06, 2017

USDA takes some animal-welfare information offline, citing privacy laws

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday announced it was removing from its website Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act inspection reports—which includes information on soring, the use of chemicals and physical abuse to induce high steps in show horses—regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication.

The agency also said it would "review and redact, as necessary, the lists of licensees and registrants under the AWA, as well as lists of designated qualified persons licensed by USDA-certified horse industry organizations."

Records will now only be available through Freedom of Information Act requests, "which can take years to be approved," Karin Brulliard writes for The Washington Post. USDA "cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision, which it said was the result of a 'comprehensive review' that took place over the past year." A USDA statement said: “We remain equally committed to being transparent and responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals with whom we come in contact."

USDA officials refused to say if the removal was temporary of permanent and it was unclear if the change was a direct result of newly hired Trump administration officials, Brulliard writes.

No comments: