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Category Archives: E-Records

National Archives Announces New Model for Preservation and Accessibility of Presidential Records

The National Archives and Records Administration announced today a new model for the preservation and accessibility of Presidential records.  This follows an Obama Foundation announcement of its commitment to fund the digitization of all of the unclassified Presidential records created during the administration of President Barack Obama.  Instead of constructing a building to house the textual and artifact records, existing NARA facilities will house the original materials. In this new model, NARA will administer neither a museum nor a traditional “Presidential Library,” and will instead focus its resources and personnel on preserving and making accessible the Presidential records of the 44th President of the United States in digital format to the greatest extent possible.  The new model continues NARA’s long-standing role as the Nation’s steward of Presidential records.  An added benefit is the enhanced ability to more quickly make released Presidential records available to researchers regardless of location. Once the records are digitized, NARA will store and preserve the original paper records, as well as the artifacts, in an existing facility that meets NARA’s high standards for archival storage.  A staff at that location will be responsible for caring for the records and artifacts.  As part of NARA’s responsibility to provide access, staff will also support a loan program that provides records and artifacts for exhibition in the Obama Museum, as well as in other private museums. Classified records will be stored in the Washington, DC area, where they can more efficiently and effectively be secured and reviewed for declassification.  As classified records are declassified and released, NARA will make them available in digitized form. In addition to the paper records, NARA received more than 250 terabytes of electronic records, including approximately 300 million emails, from the Obama White House.  Together, these “born digital” and the digitized materials will represent the largest digital archive of Presidential records.  NARA staff will be able to work from existing facilities to process and review this content using digital tools to support their work. The establishment of a digital archives for the records of President Obama continues NARA’s efforts to establish new ways of reaching more researchers, educators, students, and citizens alike in the 21st Century, and sets the stage for a new era in the study of Presidents past and future as well as of the Presidency itself.

Presidential Executive Order on Establishment of American Technology Council

Presidential Executive Order on the Establishment of the American Technology Council, Executive Order, May 1, 2017 “Purpose.  To promote the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, this order establishes the American Technology Council (ATC). …Sec. 6. ATC Functions. (a) The principal functions of the ATC shall be to: (i) coordinate the vision, strategy,… Continue Reading

DOJ defends USDA take-down of massive animal abuse database

Follow up to previous postings – Animal welfare information wiped from USDA website and Some animal welfare data removed from USDA site is restored – via Josh Gerstein – Politico – “The Justice Department is mounting a legal defense of one of the most-publicized counter-transparency moves of the new Trump administration: the Agriculture Department’s decision… Continue Reading

Former Microsoft CEO Ballmer Launches USAFacts – vast searchable database of govdocs

Wired: “Government data is available, but it’s not exactly accessible. A new project from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Seattle design studio Artefact aims to change that. Called USAFacts, it’s an ambitious, $10 million effort to present government data in a way that’s open, non-partisan, and stupidly easy to understand. The website, launching today,… Continue Reading

NYT – Robert Taylor, Innovator Who Shaped Modern Computing, Dies at 85

The Internet had many progenitors – not one. Thanks to the New York Time for shining light on the multifaceted work of one man whose consistent creative genius moved us forward in ways most do not know:  “Like many inventions, the internet was the work of countless hands. But perhaps no one deserves more credit… Continue Reading

Secure computing for journalists

Matthew Green: “…Classical (desktop and laptop) operating systems were designed primarily to support application developers. This means they offer a lot of power to your applications. An application like Microsoft Word can typically read and write all the files available to your account. If Word becomes compromised, this is usually enough to pwn you in practice. And in many cases,… Continue Reading

Killer Apps: Vanishing Messages, Encrypted Communications, and Challenges to Freedom of Information Laws When Public Officials “Go Dark”

Stewart, Daxton, Killer Apps: Vanishing Messages, Encrypted Communications, and Challenges to Freedom of Information Laws When Public Officials “Go Dark” (April 13, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract= “In the early weeks of the new presidential administration, White House staffers were communicating among themselves and leaking to journalists using apps such as Signal and Confide, which… Continue Reading

MasterPrint: Exploring the Vulnerability of Partial Fingerprint-based Authentication Systems

“This paper investigates the security of partial fingerprint-based authentication systems, especially when multiple fingerprints of a user are enrolled. A number of consumer electronic devices, such as smartphones, are beginning to incorporate fingerprint sensors for user authentication. The sensors embedded in these devices are generally small and the resulting images are, therefore, limited in size.… Continue Reading

What is the fate of deleted Presidential tweets?

FCW.com – “The White House plans to save deleted tweets, according to a communication from the head of the National Archives, but the president is the ultimate arbiter of what is and isn’t a presidential record [emphasis added]. David S. Ferriero, the national archivist, set out the current status of records management training and policy… Continue Reading

Paper – Encryption Workarounds

Kerr, Orin S. and Schneier, Bruce, Encryption Workarounds (March 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2938033 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2938033 “The widespread use of encryption has triggered a new step in many criminal investigations: the encryption workaround. We define an encryption workaround as any lawful government effort to reveal an unencrypted version of a target’s data that has been concealed by… Continue Reading

Implementation of IT Reform Law and Related Initiatives Can Help Improve Acquisitions

Information Technology: Implementation of IT Reform Law and Related Initiatives Can Help Improve Acquisitions, GAO-17-494T: Published: Mar 28, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2017. “The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was enacted in December 2014 to improve federal information technology (IT) acquisitions and can help federal agencies reduce duplication and achieve cost savings.… Continue Reading

Using data and design to compare corruption and transparency across 50 U.S. states

Storybench article: “With Senate confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks happening this week, questions of conflicts of interest and financial disclosure are top of mind. Northeastern University journalism professors John Wihbey and Mike Beaudet, along with Information Design and Visualization professor Pedro Cruz and graduate student Irene de la Torre Arenas, recently published an… Continue Reading