Freedom of Information

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  • FOIA Workshop - Sept. 3 and 4 in Chicago

    The FOIA blog
    scott hodes
    24 Jul 2014 | 8:20 am
    My last major FOIA training as the President of ASAP is nearing - its in Chicago on September 3 and 4th and I'm told that registration is going well.  There is a finite amount of space available and early bird pricing will run out shortly, so anyone interested should register today.  All the details can be found here.
  • Free expression: A Cal state university administration bristles over ‘risque’ fundraiser on student radio station

    FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION » News & Opinion
    donal brown
    22 Jul 2014 | 10:26 am
    A San Luis Obispo California state university is considering its options including selling the license of their student-run FM radio station after a fundraiser offering photos of student DJs’ genitals in return for donations. School administrators have asked the station’s faculty adviser to develop a plan to prevent future incidents and to improve the educational […]
  • Records from St. Luke’s antitrust trial to be revealed

    IDOG
    IDOG
    8 Jul 2014 | 11:10 am
    Almost 900: That's how many witness statements, internal emails, hospital prices and other documents U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill pored over in the past couple of months, sorting out what should be kept secret from what the law requires him to make public. From the Idaho Statesman
  • The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, Brought To You By Wall Street, Real Estate Developers and Insurance Companies

    OpenSecrets Blog
    Lalita Clozel
    24 Jul 2014 | 10:17 am
    Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill to reauthorize the 2002 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. (Flickr/maisa_nyc) Who says Congress can’t get anything done? The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, first passed in the aftermath of 9/11 to relieve insurers of deep losses in connection with terrorist acts, was reauthorized easily in the Senate last week. The extremely deep pockets of industries that lobbied aggressively for the bill might have had something to do with that. The program was brought to the floor, as it has been in the past, by a roster of senators with strong financial…
  • How accessible are executive orders in each of the 50 states?

    Sunlight Foundation Blog
    Joy Wang
    24 Jul 2014 | 10:42 am
    Image credit: Flickr/Jay Inslee What do weather disasters, new educational mandates and drilling for gas on state land have in common? All of them can be regulated through the power of the governor’s executive order. The power of the executive order is a hot topic at the U.S. federal level. In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama touted the executive order as a means to achieve his policy objectives despite a perpetually intransigent Congress. The planned lawsuit by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, against the president partially concerns the use of presidential executive…
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    The FOIA blog

  • FOIA Workshop - Sept. 3 and 4 in Chicago

    scott hodes
    24 Jul 2014 | 8:20 am
    My last major FOIA training as the President of ASAP is nearing - its in Chicago on September 3 and 4th and I'm told that registration is going well.  There is a finite amount of space available and early bird pricing will run out shortly, so anyone interested should register today.  All the details can be found here.
  • NSA Redactions on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Opinion Upheld

    scott hodes
    23 Jul 2014 | 7:00 am
    Courthouse News Service has this article about the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit for an unredacted copy of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Opinion on NSA Surveillance.  The 81 page opinion has been reprocessed a number of times during the litigation and the Court finally found that the NSA's remaining redactions were proper.
  • Veto Urged on Cyber Security Bill

    scott hodes
    22 Jul 2014 | 5:11 am
    Patrice McDermott of Open the Government.Org has this editorial in the Washington Post urging the White House to veto the Senate's Cyber Security Bill.  The editorial states that cybersecurity legislation is important, just not this bill which includes a FOIA exemption for information shared with the government pursuant to the Cybersecurity legislalation.  More on the bill can be found here.
  • Reporter Discovers FOIA

    scott hodes
    21 Jul 2014 | 6:30 am
    I'm always amazed at how reporters don't use, understand or are taught about the federal FOIA.  Here is a blog from a reporter in Minnesota who has just started using the federal FOIA and is discovering its not as easy as just asking for information. I think all newspapers could help themselves by having their reporters take a class on FOIA as all who use FOIA know its not a simple process.
  • EPA IG Issues Fee Waiver Report

    scott hodes
    17 Jul 2014 | 4:44 am
    The Hill reports on a report by the EPA's Inspector General that found that there was is no bias in the granting of fee waivers.  Conservative leaning public interest groups had complained that they were being denied fee waivers when others were receiving them.  The IG reviewed the EPA's handling of fee waivers and found no bias but did find that the process could be improved.
 
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    IDOG

  • Records from St. Luke’s antitrust trial to be revealed

    IDOG
    8 Jul 2014 | 11:10 am
    Almost 900: That's how many witness statements, internal emails, hospital prices and other documents U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill pored over in the past couple of months, sorting out what should be kept secret from what the law requires him to make public. From the Idaho Statesman
  • CNN files lawsuit against Blaine County over Bergdahl records

    IDOG
    4 Jul 2014 | 11:06 am
    Cable News Network has filed a lawsuit against Blaine County seeking information from a 1999 police investigation involving the family of Bowe Bergdahl, the Wood River Valley soldier who spent five years in captivity of the Taliban. From the Idaho Mountain Express
  • At Kustra’s urging, BSU releases stadium naming-rights figures

    IDOG
    19 Jun 2014 | 9:14 am
    Boise State will receive $9,081,250 from the Albertsons Stadium naming-right deal, 72.65 percent of the total package, according to documents obtained by the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday afternoon. From the Idaho Statesman
  • Boise State refuses to disclose finances of Albertsons Stadium deal

    IDOG
    18 Jun 2014 | 8:41 am
    Boise State has withheld details of the Albertsons Stadium naming-rights deal - even from the State Board of Education, which will consider the dollar-less contract Thursday in Idaho Falls. From the Idaho Statesman
  • Public records show how governor’s ombudsman order got scaled back at last minute

    IDOG
    19 May 2014 | 9:28 am
    The Idaho governor's executive order creating a public records ombudsman post had to be scaled back at the last minute over concerns that it could step on existing laws, public records from the governor's office show. From the Associated Press
 
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    OpenSecrets Blog

  • The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, Brought To You By Wall Street, Real Estate Developers and Insurance Companies

    Lalita Clozel
    24 Jul 2014 | 10:17 am
    Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill to reauthorize the 2002 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. (Flickr/maisa_nyc) Who says Congress can’t get anything done? The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, first passed in the aftermath of 9/11 to relieve insurers of deep losses in connection with terrorist acts, was reauthorized easily in the Senate last week. The extremely deep pockets of industries that lobbied aggressively for the bill might have had something to do with that. The program was brought to the floor, as it has been in the past, by a roster of senators with strong financial…
  • OpenSecrets.org Adds Data on Lawmakers’ Periodic Transaction Reports

    mdiemer
    23 Jul 2014 | 10:38 am
    Freshman Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) has filed the greatest number of periodic transaction reports so far this year. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Editor’s note: Special thanks to Bob Lannon and the team at the Sunlight Foundation for help with the initial scraping and optical character recognition work necessary to make this data available. Today, OpenSecrets.org released a new dataset in the updated Personal Finances section of our website. The STOCK Act, passed in 2012, required all members of Congress to report large transactions within 45 days. Lawmakers submit these…
  • Facebook’s Lobbying Outlays Befit a Corporate Behemoth

    Russ Choma
    22 Jul 2014 | 4:44 pm
    During Facebook’s early years, the company barely noticed Washington, taking a full five years to spend its first dime on federal lobbying. Then, the company’s investment in the capital began growing rapidly, alongside its revenue and ambitions. Now, as a full-fledged corporate behemoth, with a billionaire CEO recently interested in politics, the company’s lobbying has exploded, making even its recent expenditures look small. In 2013, Facebook spent $6.4 million on federal lobbying, an increase of more than 68 percent from the year before and almost six times what…
  • Ante Up for the Party

    Lalita Clozel
    22 Jul 2014 | 9:17 am
    Incoming House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, left, walks with incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Much like being in a fraternity, being a House Republican leader hinges partly on popularity — and also on paying one’s dues. While the June 10 primary loss of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was a devastating first for a House majority leader, it soon ushered in a new round of winners and losers. The following week, several Republicans vying for newly vacant leadership roles were rounding up support – and making good on their debts…
  • OFA Fundraising Down, But Still Attracting New Donors

    Peter Olsen-Phillips
    22 Jul 2014 | 7:02 am
    As it signaled it would a few months ago, Organizing for Action, the nonprofit spinoff from President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign that focuses on advancing his legislative agenda, brought in fewer big donations and less money overall in the second quarter: close to $3.9 million compared with almost $5.9 million the previous quarter. But while the group had promised to ease off on its pursuit of big donors — needed elsewhere by the party to fund Democratic candidates, parties and super PACs — a voluntary disclosure from the organization shows several newcomers to…
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    Sunlight Foundation Blog

  • How accessible are executive orders in each of the 50 states?

    Joy Wang
    24 Jul 2014 | 10:42 am
    Image credit: Flickr/Jay Inslee What do weather disasters, new educational mandates and drilling for gas on state land have in common? All of them can be regulated through the power of the governor’s executive order. The power of the executive order is a hot topic at the U.S. federal level. In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama touted the executive order as a means to achieve his policy objectives despite a perpetually intransigent Congress. The planned lawsuit by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, against the president partially concerns the use of presidential executive…
  • Campaign Intelligence: Super PAC spending brings home wins in Georgia primary elections

    Palmer Gibbs
    24 Jul 2014 | 8:17 am
    Welcome to another edition of "Campaign Intelligence" — a recurring series on candidates, campaigns and elections in which Sunlight's Reporting Group highlights interesting stories we see developing from our data analysis tools. Gun Owners of America made a pro-Jody Hice ad in the final days before the GOP primary run-off. Hice won the election, and will face off against Democrat Ken Dious in November for Georgia's 10th District House seat. A pair of pro-gun groups spent more than $9,000 in two and a half weeks on the winning candidate in a GOP House primary in Georgia. The down-to-the-wire…
  • Last chance training on Aug. 13 to help you follow the money in 2014 elections

    Bill Allison
    24 Jul 2014 | 6:57 am
    Sunlight and the Asian American Journalists Association is offering one of the last chances to get hands-on, in-person training on a whole host of new and improved money-in-politics tracking tools before the labor day kickoff of the 2014 midterm elections. The four hour session will run 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (all times EST) and will be held in meeting room 14 at the Renaissance Hotel at 999 Ninth St. NW, here in Washington, D.C. Join Sunlight staff, including Lindsay Young, Peter Olsen-Phillips, Palmer Gibbs, Jacob Fenton, Kathy Kiely and Bill Allison as we guide you through a…
  • Today in #OpenGov 7/24/2014

    Gabbi Fisher
    24 Jul 2014 | 6:49 am
    Keep reading for today's look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis, including upcoming privacy guidelines for commercial drone use, controversies surrounding Japan's Secrecy Act and its possible loopholes for stifling journalists, and the Massachusetts state House and Senate taking a firm stand on more super PAC disclosure. National News Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy claims to be "close to an agreement with Obama administration on how to rein in government surveillance" with the USA Freedom Act. The draft of the bill that passed the House, however, was speculated to have been…
  • Open meetings need open data

    Alisha Green
    23 Jul 2014 | 1:05 pm
    Open meetings laws are an essential element of open government. Ensuring public access to government decision-making processes can help create transparency, allow for accountability, and encourage public participation in the choices being made on the public's behalf. For open meetings laws to live up to their full potential, they need to reflect the opportunities provided by recent advances in technology. Governments are already starting to update public records laws to take advantage of these kinds of advances, and open meetings laws are overdue for undergoing similar revisions. Open…
 
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    Deeplinks

  • As Congress Tackles Copyright Remedies, EFF Publishes New Whitepaper on the Broken Penalty System

    Mitch Stoltz
    23 Jul 2014 | 4:44 pm
    Today, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on "remedies" in copyright law—that is, the penalties, injunctions, and other means of challenging and penalizing alleged infringement. This is hugely important: fixing copyright’s remedy provisions (like excessive, unpredictable monetary penalties and government seizures of domain names) is key to ensuring that copyright does its job—helping to encourage creativity—without unduly interfering with free speech and innovation. To help the Judiciary Committee, and to explain why fixing this part of copyright law is so important,…
  • Colombian Student Faces Prison Charges for Sharing an Academic Article Online

    Maira Sutton
    23 Jul 2014 | 12:59 am
    In many parts of the developing world, students face barriers to access academic materials. Libraries are often inadequate, and schools and universities are often unable to pay dues for expensive, specialized databases. For these students, the Internet is a vital tool and resource to access materials that are otherwise unavailable to them. Yet despite the opportunities enabled by the Internet, there are still major risks to accessing and sharing academic resources online. A current situation in Colombia exemplifies this problem: a graduate student is facing four to eight years in prison for…
  • White House Website Includes Unique Non-Cookie Tracker, Conflicts With Privacy Policy

    Kurt Opsahl and Peter Eckersley
    22 Jul 2014 | 6:50 pm
    Yesterday, ProPublica reported on new research by a team at KU Leuven and Princeton on canvas fingerprinting. One of the most intrusive users of the technology is a company called AddThis, who by are employing it in “shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.” Canvas fingerprinting allows sites to get even more identifying information than we had previously warned about with our Panopticlick fingerprinting experiment.  Canvas fingerprinting exploits the fact that different browsers have slightly different algorithms, parameters, and hardware for…
  • Going to San Diego Comic-Con? Put On Your Mask for the Surveillance Camera Network

    Dave Maass
    22 Jul 2014 | 9:44 am
    In the TV series Person of Interest, two government artificial intelligence programs—one gone rogue—can access virtually every surveillance camera across New York City, including privately operated ones in places like parking garages, hotels, and apartment complexes. The creators of the show try to stay one step ahead of modern technology. So the question is: do cities really create networks of interconnected private and public security cameras? Yes, they do. If you're going to San Diego Comic-Con (and the Person of Interest team is), you'll want to pull on your Batman mask or slather on…
  • Mergulhando Fundo: Atualizações para os Princípios Necessários e Proporcionais

    Cindy Cohn and Katitza Rodriguez
    21 Jul 2014 | 12:35 pm
    O dia 10 de julho marca um ano desde que a EFF e uma coalizão de centenas de especialistas e ativistas de direitos humanos deram os últimos retoques nos Princípios Necessários e Proporcionais Esses 13 Princípios explicam como a legislação internacional de direitos humanos deve ser aplicada à vigilância governamental. Desde então, os Princípios vêm recebendo forte apoio em todo o planeta, alimentado em parte pela indignação popular com a espionagem realizada pela NSA1, GCHQ2 e outras agências de inteligência mencionadas nos documentos revelados pelo denunciante Edward Snowden.
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    The Fine Print: blog posts from Center for Effective Government

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: A Public Solution for Widespread Individual Problems

    sklinger
    23 Jul 2014 | 1:25 pm
    The Great Recession that started in 2007 wiped out $7 trillion of wealth in America and led to 4.5 million families losing their homes to foreclosure. As people picked up the pieces from the meltdown, the abuses within the financial services industry became increasingly clear. An angry public demanded action. Two years later and after much resistance from the financial sector, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, establishing, among other things, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB was the brainchild of then-Harvard University…
  • We Can Fix This. We've Done It Before. Re-imagining Government

    kmcfate
    23 Jul 2014 | 12:52 pm
    When I talk to people who work in Washington, DC these days, I'm struck by the resignation. The political/policy professionals with whom I interact regularly are discouraged by the political posturing that undermines serious efforts at addressing national needs. They've counted noses and can tell me why nothing can happen in the next month, before November, before the end of the year, before the next presidential election. They tell us why we should give up. The fatigue is palpable, heavy, and contagious. But outside of Washington, it feels different. People are angry, and there's energy in…
  • Re-Imagining Government By "the People": Women's Suffrage

    sklinger
    23 Jul 2014 | 12:04 pm
    Highlights: The first women's rights convention in the U.S. was held 166 years ago in Seneca Falls, New York. It took 72 years of advocacy following the Seneca Falls Convention for women to gain the right to vote. One hundred and sixty-six years ago, 300 women and a few men gathered in the small, upstate New York town of Seneca Falls at the first convention to discuss and advocate for women’s’ rights. At the close of the two-day event, 100 of those gathered signed a “Declaration of Sentiments” that included a resolution supporting women’s right to vote.
  • Corporate Inversions: A “Get Out of Taxes Free” Card

    sklinger
    21 Jul 2014 | 2:06 pm
    Highlights: Seventy-five U.S. corporations moved offshore by using corporate inversions since 1994 – with 47 doing so in the last decade alone. Companies seeking corporate inversions are looking to avoid taxes on past profits, as well as future profits. At present, U.S. companies have more than $2 trillion in untaxed profits held offshore. The Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014 would impose a two-year moratorium on inversion transactions in order to give Congress the time to craft a permanent solution to the problem. If you don’t pay your taxes in America, you risk heavy fines or…
  • Lifting the Ban on Crude Oil Exports Troubling in Light of Recent Rail Catastrophes

    kweatherford
    21 Jul 2014 | 9:47 am
    What do fracking, recent rail car explosions, and international trade have in common? A volatile light crude oil called "condensate." Condensate is typically defined as natural gas trapped underground that liquefies as it comes to the surface and is classified as an ultralight, gassy crude oil. The distinction between traditional crude oil and condensate has only become relevant in recent years due to hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), which has resulted in higher yields of condensate than traditional extraction methods. With the growing stock of condensate and projections…
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    Sunlight Foundation Blog

  • How accessible are executive orders in each of the 50 states?

    Joy Wang
    24 Jul 2014 | 10:42 am
    Image credit: Flickr/Jay Inslee What do weather disasters, new educational mandates and drilling for gas on state land have in common? All of them can be regulated through the power of the governor’s executive order. The power of the executive order is a hot topic at the U.S. federal level. In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama touted the executive order as a means to achieve his policy objectives despite a perpetually intransigent Congress. The planned lawsuit by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, against the president partially concerns the use of presidential executive…
  • Campaign Intelligence: Super PAC spending brings home wins in Georgia primary elections

    Palmer Gibbs
    24 Jul 2014 | 8:17 am
    Welcome to another edition of "Campaign Intelligence" — a recurring series on candidates, campaigns and elections in which Sunlight's Reporting Group highlights interesting stories we see developing from our data analysis tools. Gun Owners of America made a pro-Jody Hice ad in the final days before the GOP primary run-off. Hice won the election, and will face off against Democrat Ken Dious in November for Georgia's 10th District House seat. A pair of pro-gun groups spent more than $9,000 in two and a half weeks on the winning candidate in a GOP House primary in Georgia. The down-to-the-wire…
  • Last chance training on Aug. 13 to help you follow the money in 2014 elections

    Bill Allison
    24 Jul 2014 | 6:57 am
    Sunlight and the Asian American Journalists Association is offering one of the last chances to get hands-on, in-person training on a whole host of new and improved money-in-politics tracking tools before the labor day kickoff of the 2014 midterm elections. The four hour session will run 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (all times EST) and will be held in meeting room 14 at the Renaissance Hotel at 999 Ninth St. NW, here in Washington, D.C. Join Sunlight staff, including Lindsay Young, Peter Olsen-Phillips, Palmer Gibbs, Jacob Fenton, Kathy Kiely and Bill Allison as we guide you through a…
  • Today in #OpenGov 7/24/2014

    Gabbi Fisher
    24 Jul 2014 | 6:49 am
    Keep reading for today's look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis, including upcoming privacy guidelines for commercial drone use, controversies surrounding Japan's Secrecy Act and its possible loopholes for stifling journalists, and the Massachusetts state House and Senate taking a firm stand on more super PAC disclosure. National News Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy claims to be "close to an agreement with Obama administration on how to rein in government surveillance" with the USA Freedom Act. The draft of the bill that passed the House, however, was speculated to have been…
  • Open meetings need open data

    Alisha Green
    23 Jul 2014 | 1:05 pm
    Open meetings laws are an essential element of open government. Ensuring public access to government decision-making processes can help create transparency, allow for accountability, and encourage public participation in the choices being made on the public's behalf. For open meetings laws to live up to their full potential, they need to reflect the opportunities provided by recent advances in technology. Governments are already starting to update public records laws to take advantage of these kinds of advances, and open meetings laws are overdue for undergoing similar revisions. Open…
 
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