The FBI's decision to stop accepting email-based Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests wouldn't have sounded so bad if the agency didn't present horrible alternatives. Compared to email, snail mailing and faxing requests would take much longer, after all. Plus, the beta version of the eFOIPA submission web portal requires too much personal info and has too many restrictions. Fortunately, the feds seem to have heard the people's complaints and will roll back the portal's worst limitations when it officially opens on March 1st.
An FBI spokesperson told The Daily Dot that the final version of the website won't ask for your phone number -- apparently, the beta only asked for one so the feds could contact you in case something went wrong with the request you sent. You also don't have to indicate your country of origin anymore. The spokesperson said it was only necessary to auto-populate the address fields. More importantly, the FBI will tweak the portal's terms of service to allow you to send an unlimited number of requests, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These changes definitely make eFOIPA a lot more usable, though email still would've been the better choice. As Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press' attorney Adam Marshall told The Daily Dot:
"I'm glad to hear they are lifting some of the restrictions that were put in place by the online portal. But I think there are still significant questions and issues that need to be answered and resolved. I think [email] is the most ubiquitous form of communication. And the government should be doing everything it can to make it easier for people to request information -- not harder."