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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

Long-Withheld Office of Legal Counsel Records Reveal Agency’s Postwar Influence

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University: “Documents released in our FOIA lawsuit for OLC legal opinions issued prior to 1994. This Reading Room contains all of the documents produced to date in Francis v. Dep’t of Justice, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit the Knight Institute filed on behalf of five scholars, Campaign for Accountability, and the Institute on August 21, 2019, seeking formal written opinions issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) prior to February 15, 1994. The OLC is a component of the Department of Justice that issues legal opinions that bind federal agencies and officials on matters of significant public concern. In the past, the OLC has avoided disclosing its opinions under the Freedom of Information Act by invoking a privilege that protects government deliberations. In 2016, Congress amended FOIA to eliminate that privilege for records over 25 years old. This lawsuit takes advantage of that amendment. Here, you can browse more than 350 opinions written by the agency and dozens of indexes containing the titles and dates of the OLC’s unclassified opinions for a given year. Ultimately, the OLC will produce indexes of unclassified opinions for all years between 1945 and February 15, 1994. This FOIA litigation is part of the Knight Institute’s broader effort to vindicate the public’s right of access to the OLC’s formal legal opinions. In another case, Campaign for Accountability v. DOJ, the Institute has argued that FOIA requires the OLC to publish its legal opinions presumptively, even in the absence of any FOIA request seeking their release…”

What does this new Google Scholar “Public Access” feature mean for me or my work?

Libvine, Melissa Rothfus – “Google Scholar recently released a new feature to the Scholar Profile section that tracks whether articles that are supposed to be open access under funder mandates are actually freely available. The feature is controversial. Some have decried the accuracy of the information and the suggestion to use Google Drive to make… Continue Reading

Top 4 Unbiased Independent World News Sources

Make Use Of: “Unbiased news sources are rare, but they do exist. Here are the best news websites that are free from true censorship….The Associated Press was founded in 1846. The renowned global news organization has 53 Pulitzer Prizes under its belt. It is and has always been the epitome of clear and unbiased news… Continue Reading

DOJ requested data on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses from Apple

CNN – “The Department of Justice sent a broad request in February 2018 to Apple as part of its investigation that collected data on members of Congress, staffers and their families. The department demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses from Apple, the company said Friday evening. Apple received the subpoena from… Continue Reading

Activist Archivists Are Trying to Save the ‘Pirate Bay of Science’

Vice – Facing lawsuits and legal trouble, archivists are working to save 77TB of freely available scientific data.  It can be hard to access scientific articles, which are often hidden behind expensive paywalls. For 10 years, Sci-Hub, the “Pirate Bay of Science” has hosted scientific papers free for anyone who wanted them. But it hasn’t… Continue Reading

Microsoft Academic discontinued & Semantic Scholar withdraws hosting of “Open access” papers

Musings About Librarianship – “In the last month, there were two interesting developments that caused quite a stir in my twitter feeds (see discussions here and here). Firstly, there was an interesting announcement on the Unpaywall mailing list, that Unpaywall had detected that Semantic Scholar which was one of the biggest repository sources they were… Continue Reading

Who is “Public” Data Really For?

LitHub: “…Both words—“public” and “open”—invite a question: For whom? Despite the efforts of Mae and Gareth, and Tom Grundner and many others, the internet as it exists is hardly a public space. Many people still find themselves excluded from full participation. Access to anything posted on a city web page or on a .gov domain… Continue Reading

Join Our Newest Crowdsourcing Campaign: Historical Legal Reports from the Law Library of Congress

In Custodia Legis: “Calling all students of history, government, law, public policy, international relations, and other interested members of the public – help us expand access to hundreds of previously unreleased legal reports and other publications from the Law Library of Congress dating back to the 1940s! We are excited to launch our second crowdsourcing… Continue Reading

Zoom Court Is Changing How Justice Is Served

The Atlantic – “Last spring, as COVID‑19 infections surged for the first time, many American courts curtailed their operations. As case backlogs swelled, courts moved online, at a speed that has amazed—and sometimes alarmed—judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. In the past year, U.S. courts have conducted millions of hearings, depositions, arraignments, settlement conferences, and even… Continue Reading

Capitol Police Told to Hold Back on Riot Response on Jan. 6

The New York Times – “The Capitol Police had clearer advance warnings about the Jan. 6 attack than were previously known, including the potential for violence in which “Congress itself is the target.” But officers were instructed by their leaders not to use their most aggressive tactics to hold off the mob, according to a… Continue Reading

Revealed: the Facebook loophole that lets world leaders deceive and harass their citizens

Julia Carrie Wong – A Guardian investigation exposes the breadth of state-backed manipulation of the platform. “Facebook has repeatedly allowed world leaders and politicians to use its platform to deceive the public or harass opponents despite being alerted to evidence of the wrongdoing. The Guardian has seen extensive internal documentation showing how Facebook handled more… Continue Reading

GPO and Libraries Set Goal to Make Every US Government Document Accessible

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) is undertaking a massive effort to capture and make publicly accessible every U.S. Government document through the National Collection of U.S. Government Public Information (National Collection). GPO will do this by digitizing documents and making them accessible on govinfo and the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), as well as… Continue Reading