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Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI announced on its website for Freedom of Information Act matters Tuesday that it's only accepting requests sent through the mail and won't process electronic ones "[d]ue to the emerging COVID-19 situation."

Why it matters: New Trump administration guidelines in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak recommend social distancing measures, including limiting social gatherings of more than 10 people. There's a global push for people who are able to switch to online work remotely to do so.

A screenshot of the FBI eFOIPA web page.
  • The Freedom of Information Act was intended to make federal government functions more transparent, providing Americans with the right to request access to records from any federal agency.

The intrigue: It is unclear from the statement posted to the Freedom of Information/Privacy Act submission portal page why it wants requests sent in the mail.

What they're saying: While the FBI has yet to comment publicly on the reason for its decision, a government attorney said in a statement to BuzzFeed the "rapidly evolving" outbreak is forcing the FBI to "drastically reduce its FOIA processing because it cannot do the work remotely, due to the system’s security constraints."

  • "The FOIA processors need to be on-site to do the work, but they are too closely positioned to be able to conform to the new social distancing guidance," the attorney added. "FBI is working on a response, but it is not clear when it will have one. And the production scheduled for the end of this month is now on hold, along with productions in many other cases."

Flashback: Forget email. The FBI wants your requests via fax

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

5 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.