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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

New EEOC Report Identifies Common Errors by Federal Agencies in Dismissing Discrimination Complaints on Procedural Grounds

News release: “As part of its continuing efforts to improve the federal sector complaint process, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a new report, Preserving Access to the Legal System: Common Errors by Federal Agencies in Dismissing Complaints of Discrimination on Procedural Grounds. In the equal employment opportunity (EEO) process for federal employees and applicants for federal employment, federal agencies initially process complaints of employment discrimination. In doing so, agencies may dismiss complaints without investigation on a variety of procedural grounds described in federal sector regulations (29 C.F.R. Part 1614). These dismissal decisions may be appealed by complainants to EEOC. Of the appellate decisions issued each year by the EEOC on federal agency dismissals, approximately one-third are reversed, with the complaints being remanded by EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) to the agencies for investigation. “Preservation of access to the legal system is one of the Commission’s critical priorities,” said Carlton Hadden, director of OFO. “In support of that goal, the EEOC examined its appellate decisions, focusing on procedural dismissals by federal agencies of EEO discrimination complaints. Our report analyzed decisions which resulted in a reversal of dismissals, to identify any common errors. By doing so, we hope to reduce the number of incorrect procedural dismissals by federal agencies.” OFO examined five years of decisions (2008-2012) and determined an average appellate reversal rate for procedural dismissals by federal agencies. The government-wide reversal rates for each fiscal year examined are as follows: FY 2008 – 30.3%; FY 2009 – 35.5%; FY 2010 – 37%; FY 2011 – 34.9%; and FY 2012 – 44.9%. OFO identified those agencies with higher than the government-wide reversal rates and analyzed the appellate reversal decisions involving those agencies to identify the most common mistakes. This showed that 81% of the EEOC’s reversal decisions involved only two regulatory grounds for dismissal: failure to state a claim and failure to comply with regulatory time limitations. These results have been shared with agency EEO directors and OFO is ready to assist agencies to ensure that access to the legal system is maintained for federal employees and applicants. Additionally, OFO has a training course available on procedural dismissals for agency EEO personnel through its EEO Training Institute.”

New GAO Reports – Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Prisons, CFPB, ID Theft, Oil and Gas Transportation, Affordable Care Act

ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: The Corps Needs to Take Steps to Identify All Projects and Studies Eligible for Deauthorization, GAO-14-699: Published: Aug 21, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 2014. BUREAU OF PRISONS: Management of New Prison Activations Can Be Improved, GAO-14-709: Published: Aug 22, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 2014. CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU:Some Privacy and Security Procedures for Data CollectionsContinue Reading

Mapping Digital Media: Global Findings

Open Society Foundations: “The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by new and digital media. Covering 56 countries, the project assesses how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide—news about political, economic, and social affairs—and how they can help advance open society values. Is aContinue Reading

FBI Says Biometric Database has Reached “Full Operational Capability”

“The FBI announced that the Next Generation Identification system, one of the largest biometric databases in the world, has reached “full operational capability.” In 2013, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit about the NGI program. EPIC obtained documents that revealed an acceptance of a 20% error rate in facial recognition searches. Earlier this year, EPIC joined a coalition ofContinue Reading

A day in the life of a data mined kid – report

Adrienne Hill: “Education, like pretty much everything else in our lives these days, is driven by data. Our childrens’ data. A whole lot of it. Nearly everything they do at school can be — and often is — recorded and tracked, and parents don’t always know what information is being collected, where it’s going, or how it’sContinue Reading

Treasure Map: The NSA Breach of Telekom and Other German Firms

Spiegel Online - Andy Müller-Maguhn, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Michael Sontheimer:  [Treaure Map] “is the mandate for a massive raid on the digital world. It aims to map the Internet, and not just the large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. It also seeks to identify the devices across which our data flows, so-called routers. Furthermore, every single endContinue Reading

Radical Librarianship: how ninja librarians are ensuring patrons’ electronic privacy

Via Boing Boing, by Alison Macrina and April Glaser: “Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of onlineContinue Reading

ISIS’s Cruelty Toward Women Gets Scant Attention

ISIS’s Cruelty Toward Women Gets Scant Attention, Sep 02, 2014 - Haleh Esfandiari “Tucked away in a recent New York Times story on military operations against ISIS by Iraqi special forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga was a brief description of what these troops discovered when they entered a village in Iraq that had been occupied by ISISContinue Reading

On Modeling the Costs of Censorship

Michael Carl Tschantz, Sadia Afroz, Vern Paxson, J. D. Tygar (Submitted on 10 Sep 2014) “We argue that the evaluation of censorship evasion tools should depend upon economic models of censorship. We illustrate our position with a simple model of the costs of censorship. We show how this model makes suggestions for how to evade censorship. In particular, fromContinue Reading

Police at more than 100 institutions acquired gear from DoD at little or no cost

Follow up to Defense Department military equipment distributed free to states around the country, via Dan Bauman, Chronicle of Higher Education: “At least 117 colleges have acquired equipment from the department through a federal program, known as the 1033 program, that transfers military surplus to law-enforcement agencies across the country, according to records The Chronicle received after filing Freedom of InformationContinue Reading

CRS – Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal

Defense Surplus Equipment Disposal, Including the Law Enforcement 1033 Program. Valerie Bailey Grasso, Specialist in Defense Acquisition. September 5, 2014. “On September 12, 1972, the Defense Property Disposal Service (the forerunner to DLA Disposition Services) was established under the Defense Supply Agency (now DLA). Defense property disposal offices were established worldwide on or near major military installations. DLAContinue Reading

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response

CRS - Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response. Christopher M. Blanchard, Coordinator - Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Carla E. Humud, Analyst in Middle Eastern and African Affairs; Mary Beth D. Nikitin, Specialist in Nonproliferation. June 27, 2014. “Fighting continues across Syria, pitting government forces and their foreign allies against a range of anti-government insurgents, some of whom also are fightingContinue Reading