Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Category Archives: Freedom of Information

As “we know” – Microfilm Lasts Half a Millennium

Just Ask a Librarian! – The Atlantic – Microfilm Lasts Half a Millennium by Craig Saper: “Millions of publications—not to mention spy documents—can be read on microfilm machines. But people still see these devices as outmoded and unappealing. An Object Lesson…

“I recently acquired a decommissioned microfilm reader. My university bought the reader for $16,000 in 1998, but its value has depreciated to $0 in their official bookkeeping records. Machines like it played a central role in both research and secret-agent tasks of the last century. But this one had become an embarrassment. The bureaucrats wouldn’t let me store the reader in a laboratory that also houses a multimillion-dollar information-display system. They made me promise to “make sure no VIPs ever see it there.” After lots of paperwork and negotiation, I finally had to transport the machine myself. Unlike a computer—even an old one—it was heavy and ungainly. It would not fit into a car, and it could not be carried by two people for more than a few feet. Even moving the thing was an embarrassment. No one wanted it, but no one wanted me to have it around either.

And yet the microfilm machine is still widely used. It has centuries of lasting power ahead of it, and new models are still being manufactured. It’s a shame that no intrigue will greet their arrival, because these machines continue to prove essential for preserving and accessing archival materials…”

CREW Scores Major Court Victory Against Dark Money

“In a major defeat for secret money in politics, a judge ruled that dark money groups that spend at least $250 in independent expenditures—a key type of political ad—must report every contributor who gave at least $200 in the past year as well as those who give to finance independent expenditures generally, throwing out an… Continue Reading

Media Lawsuits Seeking Government Records Jump Under Trump

“The number of lawsuits filed by news organizations and reporters to obtain federal government records was up sharply during the first year and a half of the Trump Administration. On an annual basis, news media Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filings rose above 100 for the first time. This is a dramatic increase compared with… Continue Reading

RSF publishes report on online harassment of journalists

Reporters Without Borders: “In a report published today, entitled “Online harassment of journalists: the trolls attack”, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) voices concern about the scale of a new threat to press freedom, the mass harassment of journalists online. The perpetrators may be ordinary “haters” (individuals or communities of individuals hiding behind their screens) or “troll… Continue Reading

White House will no longer issue readouts of Trump’s calls to foreign leaders

CNN: “The White House has suspended the practice of publishing public summaries of President Donald Trump’s phone calls with world leaders, two sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN, bringing an end to a common exercise from Republican and Democratic administrations. It’s unclear if the suspension is temporary or permanent. A White House spokesman… Continue Reading

FOIA request for Interior Department emails and sale of US national heritage sites reveals clear and present danger

Washington Post: “In a quest to shrink national monuments last year, senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence that these public sites boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries, according to documents the department released this month and retracted a day later. The thousands of pages of email correspondence chart how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his… Continue Reading

Rebecca Solnit: They Think They Can Bully the Truth

Literary Hub: “Cousin to the noun dictator is the verb dictate. There are among us people who assume their authority is so great they can dictate what happened, that their assertions will override witnesses, videotapes, evidence, the historical record, that theirs is the only voice that matters, and it matters so much it can stand… Continue Reading

FBI Wish List: An App That Can Recognize the Meaning of Your Tattoos

EFF: “We’ve long known that the FBI is heavily invested in developing face recognition technology as a key component in its criminal investigations. But new records, obtained by EFF through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, show that’s not the only biometric marker the agency has its eyes on. The FBI’s wish list also… Continue Reading

HHS takes down Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Website

This site has been archived and remains available via the Internet Archive – https://web.archive.org/web/20180713143753/https://guideline.gov/ “The AHRQ National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC, guideline.gov) Web site will not be available after July 16, 2018 because federal funding through AHRQ will no longer be available to support the NGC as of that date. AHRQ is receiving expressions of interest… Continue Reading

Free Law Project – The Special Counsel Cases

“On October 30, 2017, the first cases brought by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III were unsealed. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia unsealed an indictment against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, as well as the full docket of a second case against George Papadopoulos, in which the defendant had already pled… Continue Reading

Coalition Calls for Urgent Investigation of Destruction of Records on Family Separation Crisis

“Open the Government, together with a coalition of organizations committed to government accountability, civil liberties, human rights, and civil rights, is calling on Congress to immediately investigate the administration’s records management practices relating to the “zero-tolerance” immigration enforcement policy and family reunification efforts. This policy has caused a major humanitarian crisis, and the administration has… Continue Reading

POGO Informs Treasury – Federal Spending Site Still Lacks Data After Revamp

Via BGOV: “…A recently revamped federal website designed to make contract spending information publicly accessible is plagued with major data gaps, a watchdog group reports. A new version of the Treasury Department-run USAspending.gov, officially launched March 2, was designed to remedy missing or faulty information on federal contract awards and executive compensation. The site was re-launched under… Continue Reading