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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

Is Wikipedia the last internet refuge if you ditch Big Tech?

Quartz Obsession: “Google-owned YouTube has a radicalization problem. So does Reddit. Twitter is full of fake news. Facebook is flooded with disinformation. The low-paid moderators hired to stem the tide of false and vile content are burning out. And even if you want to ditch the tech giants altogether, good luck with that—their ad reach can follow you all over the internet. The web was created as an open exchange of information. Today, that dream often seems dead. But on the fifth-most popular website in the world, it’s not only still alive, but it also actually works pretty well. The biggest tech companies on earth rely on it to power search results, fight disinformation and make smart speakers smarter. Wikipedia is fallible, and despite its goal of neutrality and ambition to gather all the world’s information, it is not without bias and conflict. Still, a surprisingly small team of volunteers keeps chipping away at disambiguating the world…”

Craigslist’s Craig Newmark: ‘Outrage is profitable. Most online outrage is faked for profit’

The Guardian – The founder of the online classifieds site is a survivor from the era of internet optimism. He has given significant sums to protect the future of news – and rejects the idea his website helped cause journalism’s financial crisis …Newmark, who has previously observed “a trustworthy press is the immune system of… Continue Reading

To Break Google’s Monopoly on Search, Make Its Index Public

Bloomberg – The tech giant doesn’t have to be dismantled. Sharing its crown jewel might reshape the internet. ” Recognition is growing worldwide that something big needs to be done about Big Tech, and fast. More than $8 billion in fines have been levied against Google by the European Union since 2017. Facebook Inc., facing… Continue Reading

Donald Trump and the Plot to Take Over the Courts

The Nation – How the 45th president has packed the courts with ultraconservatives—and reshaped the judiciary for a generation. “…Trump’s Court—the collection of judges and justices now swarming our judicial system, nominated and confirmed to lifetime appointments on his recommendation—will linger, like an infected wound poisoning the body politic even after the initial injury has… Continue Reading

French Law Banning Analytics About Judges Restricts Legitimate Use of Public Data

Center for Data Innovation – “Earlier this year, France adopted a law which forbids anyone from analyzing data about judges’ court decisions with violators facing up to five years in jail. Supporters of the ban say it is necessary to protect the privacy of judges because statistical analysis may reveal troubling patterns about how certain… Continue Reading

FBI, ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches

Washington Post – A cache of records shared with The Washington Post reveals that agents are scanning hundreds of millions of Americans’ faces without their knowledge or consent – “Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through hundreds… Continue Reading

Information Mischief Under the Trump Administration

Cortez, Nathan, Information Mischief Under the Trump Administration (May 21, 2019). Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, 2019; SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 418. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3391965 “The Trump administration has used government information in more cynical ways than its predecessors. For example, it has removed certain information… Continue Reading

Judiciary Creates Public User Group for PACER

Via press release on June 26, 2019: “The Federal Judiciary has created and is seeking members for a public user group to provide advice and feedback on ways to improve its electronic public access services. The Electronic Public Access (EPA) Public User Group membership will be selected from interested applicants who represent the legal sector,… Continue Reading

ICE Focus Shifts Away from Detaining Serious Criminals

“As of December 31, 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had 47,486 individuals in its custody. The number of ICE detainees was up 22 percent from the 38,810 persons ICE held at the end of September 2016. Results are based on case-by-case records recently obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at… Continue Reading

Looking for a better way to teach public records? Read what we’ve learned in Make FOIA Work

MuckRock: “A new field guide on bringing transparency into communities from the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and MuckRock Last August, with support from the Online News Association, we partnered with the Engagement Lab at Emerson College and the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism to explore new ways of… Continue Reading

Justices to Decide if States Can Copyright Laws

Courthouse News: “The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to weigh in on the ability of a state to copyright its own official annotated codes, after an appeals court panel ruled Georgia could not. The court battle goes back to 2015, when the Peach State sought an order forcing U.S. technologist and public domain advocate Carl… Continue Reading

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Legal Analysis Used By Treasury to Withhold Tax Return Info from Congress

American Oversight – Trump’s Tax Returns: “According to the Treasury Department, Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s refusal to comply with a House committee’s request for the president’s tax returns is based on a Justice Department legal analysis — even though the IRS issued a memorandum concluding that such documents must be produced unless there is a claim of… Continue Reading