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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

Access Denied: Federal Web Governance Under the Trump Administration

The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI), February 2021: “The Trump administration pushed the boundaries of rules, guidelines, and norms in most areas of governance. Manipulating public information was a key tactic, which included dramatic and damaging changes to federal agency websites relating to environmental regulations. These changes led the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) to identify acute gaps in federal website governance and develop recommendations for reforms under the Biden administration and beyond. Websites are the primary means by which federal environmental agencies communicate with the public and serve as resources paid for by American tax dollars to benefit the public. Changes to language, content, or access to federal websites can directly affect public knowledge of and participation in environmental decision-making. While considerable guidance exists for the delivery of federal digital services , there is scant policy focused on the web content provided by federal agencies, and born-digital resources are by and large excluded from record-keeping laws. There are no repercussions, for example, for agencies stripping websites that contain inconvenient factual information for a given political agenda. In this digital age and at this juncture in the development and protection of American democracy, EDGI recommends that the Biden administration swiftly develop progressive web-based information policies to be implemented across federal agencies and then codified into law. These policies and laws would provide standards for web governance , that is, the creation and management of data and informational resources provided on digital platforms. We recommend that regulatory-related resources–informational resources that pertain to the purpose, function, or impact of environmental laws–be a web governance priority…”

NYT Op – Lawyers Enabled Trump’s Worst Abuses

The New York Times Opinion By Sherrilyn A. Ifill – Ms. Ifill is a lawyer and author. She is president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., a civil rights legal organization. “The legal profession must reckon with its complicity in Trump’s attack on democracy. Every day, we learn more about… Continue Reading

Accountability 2021 – Restoring accountability in the federal government

Open the Government  – 40 Advocacy Organizations & Experts Release Accountability 2021 Reform Agenda for Biden Administration – “The Accountability 2021 effort recognizes that the President has the power to create a government that is both responsive to and representative of the public—and demands that whoever sits in the Oval Office take steps to do… Continue Reading

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: Judges Fail To Rule in a Timely Manner on FOIA Cases

The FOIA Project at the Newhouse School TRAC/Syracuse University Report – “The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed to ensure the public’s right to know what their government was doing. Response delays have become a perennial problem. Federal officials increasingly ignore FOIA deadlines for responding, forcing FOIA requesters to take them to court. As… Continue Reading

National Archives Launches Trump Presidential Library Website

On January 20, 2021 – “The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) …launched the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library website, which provides information on archived White House websites and social media accounts, as well as information on access to the records of the Trump Administration. Under the Presidential Records Act, the National Archives receives all… Continue Reading

When FOIA Goes to Court: 20 Years of Freedom of Information Act Litigation by News Organizations and Reporters

“In 2020, news organizations and individual reporters filed 122 different Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits to compel disclosure of federal government records—more than any year on record according to federal court data back to 2001 analyzed by the FOIA Project. In fact, the media alone have filed a total of 386 FOIA cases during… Continue Reading

The Capitol Riot: Documents You Should Read (Part 1)

“The Pentagon’s timeline of its response to the January 6, 2021 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol features multiple discrepancies with the public record, while the first federal indictment of mob participants details the specific legal charges that likely will be brought against others, according to the documents in the National Security Archive’s first “January… Continue Reading

The Capitol riot and its aftermath makes the case for tech regulation more urgent, but no simpler

TechCrunch: “Last week and throughout the weekend, technology companies took the historic step of deplatforming the president of the United States in the wake of a riot in which the US Capitol was stormed by a collection of white nationalists, QAnon supporters, and right wing activists. The decision to remove Donald Trump, his fundraising and… Continue Reading

COVID-19, Death Records and the Public Interest: Now is the Time to Push for Transparency

Sanders, A. K. (2020). COVID-19, death records and the public interest: Now is the time to push for transparency. Journal of Civic Information, 2(4), 1-22. “As the U.S. has grappled with COVID-19, the government has resisted repeated requests to follow open records laws, which are essential to transparency. Current efforts to reduce access to death… Continue Reading

YouTube’s Copyright Filter Is Crushing Video Critique And It’s Getting Worse

Gizmodo – “YouTube’s copyright filter is a labyrinthine nightmare called Content ID. Content ID works by scanning all the videos on YouTube and comparing them to a database of material submitted by copyright holders—often music labels and movie and TV studios—which have been given the ability to add things to the database by YouTube. Once… Continue Reading