WASHINGTON— Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, today announced the launch and availability of the next generation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) website, which provides greatly improved access to public information about registered foreign agents and their activities in this country.
Passed by Congress in 1938, FARA is a public disclosure statute that requires all persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.
The enhanced FARA website gives the public greater access to documents and other information related to foreign agent registrations that are filed with the FARA Registration Unit, which is part of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. In the past, these public records could only be obtained by contacting the FARA Registration Unit directly or by physically visiting FARA’s office in Washington, D.C., where the public could access scanned document images as well as original filings.
Anyone with an Internet connection can now access the repository of public documents filed by registered foreign agents. The document search feature of the new site provides an intuitive method to locate individual records or related documents. Once a document is located, it is available for access in Portable Document Format (PDF) for printing or downloading. In addition, the search results page can be saved in a spreadsheet format to facilitate additional research in the future. The upgraded website continues to offer other valuable resources for the public, such as frequently asked questions, links to key statutes, FARA semi-annual reports to Congress and access to FARA registration forms for filing purposes.
The updated FARA website can be accessed at http://www.fara.gov/ and is linked through the home page of the Justice Department’s National Security Division at http://www.usdoj.gov/nsd/. The launch of the new website comes as a result of an extensive joint effort by the FARA Registration Unit in conjunction with key management and technical personnel from the Criminal Division’s Information Technology Management Section.
“Congress enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act to expose foreign participation in efforts to influence our laws, policy or public opinion, and we have developed this website to broaden that exposure by making foreign agent registrations more easily available to all Americans. This website is a significant step in the effort to ensure transparency in the world of foreign-influenced lobbying,” said Assistant Attorney General Wainstein.
The purpose of the Foreign Agents Registration Act is to protect the national defense, internal security, and foreign relations of the U.S. by requiring public disclosure by persons engaged in certain political and quasi-political activities on behalf of foreign principals to ensure the American public and its law makers know the source of the information intended to sway public opinion, policy, and laws. It facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their associations.
The updated FARA website will continue to be tested, improved and upgraded to provide users with additional instructions, functions, and capabilities. While the initial release of this search tool provides Internet access to the vast majority of public documents on file with the FARA Registration Unit, there are certain documents not yet available via the Internet at this time as some potential privacy issues remain under review. Nevertheless, these particular documents can still be accessed at the FARA public office.
The Department encourages anyone interested in FARA activities to use this new system to more conveniently access FARA’s public information.