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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

TIME magazine cover story – How Baby Boomers Broke America

Steven Brill – How My Generation Broke America [Brill is the author of Tailspin, from which this article is adapted, out this month from Alfred A. Knopf.] This appears in the May 28, 2018 issue of TIME: “Lately, most Americans, regardless of their political leanings, have been asking themselves some version of the same question: How did we get here? How did the world’s greatest democracy and economy become a land of crumbling roads, galloping income inequality, bitter polarization and dysfunctional government? As I tried to find the answer over the past two years, I discovered a recurring irony. About five decades ago, the core values that make America great began to bring America down. The First Amendment became a tool for the wealthy to put a thumb on the scales of democracy. America’s rightly celebrated dedication to due process was used as an instrument to block government from enforcing job-safety rules, holding corporate criminals accountable and otherwise protecting the unprotected. Election reforms meant to enhance democracy wound up undercutting democracy. Ingenious financial and legal engineering turned our economy from an engine of long-term growth and shared prosperity into a casino with only a few big winners.

These distinctly American ideas became the often unintended instruments for splitting the country into two classes: the protected and the unprotected. The protected overmatched, overran and paralyzed the government. The unprotected were left even further behind. And in many cases, the work was done by a generation of smart, hungry strivers who benefited from one of the most American values of all: meritocracy.

This is not to say that all is rotten in the United States. There are more opportunities available today for women, nonwhites and other minorities than ever. There are miracles happening daily in the nation’s laboratories, on the campuses of its world-class colleges and universities, in the offices of companies creating software for robots and medical diagnostics, in concert halls and on Broadway stages, and at joyous ceremonies swearing in proud new citizens. Yet key measures of the nation’s public engagement, satisfaction and confidence – voter turnout, knowledge of public-policy issues, faith that the next generation will fare better than the current one, and respect for basic institutions, especially the government – are far below what they were 50 years ago, and in many cases have reached near historic lows…”

CFPB techies blast talk of taking down complaint portal

FCW.com: “…Created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is one of the first federal examples of bringing in outside tech talent to deliver government services. “If you’re going to build a government agency from scratch, you’re going to get the chance to do things differently,” one former CFPB senior official told… Continue Reading

Report to Archivist of the United States 2018 FOIA Act

National Archives and Records Administration 2016-2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee Final Report and Recommendations –  April 17, 2018. “During the 2016-2018 term, the Committee formed three subcommittees to examine specific areas in which federal agencies could implement initiatives to improve proactive disclosures, FOIA searches, and the efficient use of agency FOIA resources.… Continue Reading

ODNI Releases Annual Intelligence Community Transparency Report

May 4, 2018 News Release: “Today, consistent with the USA FREEDOM Act and the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (the reauthorized FAA) requirements to release certain statistics (codified in 50 U.S.C.§ 1873(b)) and the Intelligence Community’s Principles of Intelligence Transparency, we are releasing our fifth annual Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security… Continue Reading

Activists request that government disable Gmail’s new ‘Self Destruct’ feature

Gmail’s ‘Self Destruct’ Feature Will Probably Be Used to Illegally Destroy –  Government Records Activists have asked Google to disable the feature on government accounts. “A new update rolling out for Gmail offers a “self destruct” feature that allows users to send messages that expire after a set amount of time. While this may sound… Continue Reading

Report – Media freedom in US under threat

The IFEX network of organisations – defending and promoting free express: “The United States media – one of the best protected in the world – is facing challenges that threaten the freedom of the press. This is the finding of an unprecedented press freedom mission that took place in January 2018, one year after President… Continue Reading

200,000 Volunteers Have Become the Fact Checkers of the Internet

NexrGov: The creation process of Wikipedia is largely transparent – “Founded in 2001, Wikipedia is on the verge of adulthood. It’s the world’s fifth-most popular website, with 46 million articles in 300 languages, while having less than 300 full-time employees. What makes it successful is the 200,000 volunteers who create it, said Katherine Maher, the… Continue Reading

National Archives publishes online dashboard of its investigations into lost, altered or destroyed public records

Sunlight Foundation: “To engage in a monumental understatement, it’s a big deal for the public’s information to be altered or disposed of without justified intention and public notice of the removal. In spring 2018, for the first time the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) has begun using the Internet to inform the American public… Continue Reading

Public access to CFPB Consumer Complaint Database may end according to Mulvaney

The New York Times: “Financial companies have worked to diminish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s powers since the day the agency was created. Now, they’re on the brink of having one of their top demands granted: an end to the regulator’s public database of complaints about their products and services. Since 2011, the bureau has… Continue Reading

EPIC Sues FTC for Release of Facebook’s Audits

“EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the release of the unredacted Facebook Assessments from the FTC. The FTC Consent Order. required Facebook to provide to the FTC biennial assessments conducted by an independent auditor. In March, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 2013, 2015, 2017 Facebook… Continue Reading

FOIA requests reveal EPA effort to boost impact of industry sponsored research

Union of Concerned Scientists: “Newly released documents obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists under three separate Freedom of Information Act requests and first reported on by POLITICO demonstrate that the Trojan horse “secret science” proposal being floated by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is entirely driven by politics. POLITICO writes: “Since Pruitt… Continue Reading

Americans Favor Protecting Information Freedoms Over Government Steps to Restrict False News Online

“The widespread concerns over misinformation online have created a tension in the United States between taking steps to restrict that information – including possible government regulation – and protecting the long-held belief in the freedom to access and publish information. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the majority of Americans are resistant to… Continue Reading