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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

Study: Government Blocks Specific Journalists From Accessing Information

David Sorota: “As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, it was revealed this week that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work. The data about public information officers was compiled over the past few years by Kennesaw State University professor Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that 4 in 10 public information officers say “there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past.”..Carlson has conducted surveys of journalists and public information officers since 2012. In her most recent survey of 445 working journalists, four out of five reported that “their interviews must be approved” by government information officers, and “more than half of the reporters said they had actually been prohibited from interviewing [government] employees at least some of the time by public information officers.”  In recent years, there have been signs that the federal government is reducing the flow of public information. Reason Magazine has reported a 114 percent increase in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rejections by the Drug Enforcement Agency since President Obama took office. The National Security Agency has also issued blanket rejections of FOIA requests about its metadata program. And the Associated Press reported earlier this year that in 2013 “the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year.” Those revelations foreshadowed this week’s letter from more than half of the federal government’s inspectors general saying that government agencies’ move to hide information from them represents a “potentially serious challenge to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

EPIC FOIA Case – Army Blimps over Washington Loaded with Surveillance Gear, Cost $1.6 Billion

“EPIC has received substantial new information about the surveillance blimps, now deployed over Washington, DC. The documents were released to EPIC in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of the Army. The documents also reveal that the Army paid Raytheon $1.6 billion. EPIC will receive more documents about the controversial program In October. For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. ArmyContinue Reading

The executive order that led to mass spying, as told by NSA alumni

Cyrus Farivar - Ars Technica: [Executive Order] 12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US,” whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. “My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.” The document, known inContinue Reading

MuckRock 50 States of FOIA Project

“The MuckRock 50 States of FOIA Project aims to shed light on what it’s like to work with public records around the U.S., through the voices of requesters state by state. This time, we focus on the state of Massachusetts. MuckRock spoke with Colman Herman, a freelance investigative reporter whose work can be found in the Globe, the Herald, and CommonwealthContinue Reading

EPIC Sues FBI for Missing Privacy Reports

“EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain details about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s surveillance programs. The agency is required to conduct privacy impact assessments when it collects and uses personal data. However, the Bureau has failed to publicly release privacy impact assessments for many of its programs, including facial recognition, drones, and license plateContinue Reading

Surveillance Costs: The NSA’s Impact on the Economy, Internet Freedom & Cybersecurity

New America Foundation – “It has been over a year since The Guardian reported the first story on the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs based on the leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, yet the national conversation remains largely mired in a simplistic debate over the tradeoffs between national security and individual privacy. It is timeContinue Reading

Deeper Dive into EFF’s Motion on Backbone Surveillance

News release: “Yesterday we filed a motion for partial summary judgment in our long running Jewel v. NSA case, focusing on the government’s admitted seizure and search of communications from the Internet backbone, also called “upstream.” We’ve asked the judge to rule that there are two ways in which this is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment: The admitted seizure of communications from theContinue Reading

Loopholes for Circumventing the Constitution: Warrantless Bulk Surveillance on Americans by Collecting Network Traffic Abroad

Arnbak, Axel and Goldberg, Sharon, Loopholes for Circumventing the Constitution: Warrantless Bulk Surveillance on Americans by Collecting Network Traffic Abroad (June 27, 2014). HOTPETS, 2014. Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2460462 “In this multi-disciplinary paper, we reveal interdependent legal and technical loopholes that intelligence agencies of the U.S. government could use to circumvent constitutional and statutoryContinue Reading

Former State Dept Exec Calls Executive Order 12333 a “Legal Loophole” for Spying on Americans

EFF – “What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?” That’s the question John Napier Tye, a former StateDepartment section chief for Internet freedom, calls on the government to answer in his powerful op-ed published today by the Washington Post. In it, Tye calls the NSA’s surveillance operations abroad, conducted under ExecutiveContinue Reading

EPIC Files Lawsuit For Details of Government Profiling System

“EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit about a controversial government data mining program, operated by the Department of Homeland Security. The “Analytical Framework for Intelligence“ contains a vast amount of sensitive personal information obtained from government agencies and the private sector. The system is used by the DHS for link analysis, anomaly detection, pattern analysis, andContinue Reading

New platform compiles, curates, and presents data on Internet access and controls

“Internet Monitor is a research project to evaluate, describe, and summarize the means, mechanisms, and extent of Internet content controls and Internet activity around the world. The project compiles and curates data from multiple sources, including primary data collected by the Berkman Center and our partners, as well as relevant secondary data. The Internet MonitorContinue Reading

11 Net Neutrality Principles released by Library and University Groups

“The above organizations firmly believe that preserving an open Internet is essential to our  nation’s freedom of speech, educational achievement, and economic growth. The Internet now serves as a primary, open platform for information exchange, intellectual discourse, civic engagement, creativity, research, innovation, teaching, and learning. We are deeply concerned that public broadband providers have financialContinue Reading