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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

Report – Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

Freedom House – Freedom of the Net 2017: “Governments around the world have dramatically increased their efforts to manipulate information on social media over the past year. The Chinese and Russian regimes pioneered the use of surreptitious methods to distort online discussions and suppress dissent more than a decade ago, but the practice has since gone global. Such state-led interventions present a major threat to the notion of the internet as a liberating technology. Online content manipulation contributed to a seventh consecutive year of overall decline in internet freedom, along with a rise in disruptions to mobile internet service and increases in physical and technical attacks on human rights defenders and independent media. Nearly half of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net 2017 experienced declines during the coverage period, while just 13 made gains, most of them minor. Less than one-quarter of users reside in countries where the internet is designated Free, meaning there are no major obstacles to access, onerous restrictions on content, or serious violations of user rights in the form of unchecked surveillance or unjust repercussions for legitimate speech. The use of “fake news,” automated “bot” accounts, and other manipulation methods gained particular attention in the United States. While the country’s online environment remained generally free, it was troubled by a proliferation of fabricated news articles, divisive partisan vitriol, and aggressive harassment of many journalists, both during and after the presidential election campaign. Russia’s online efforts to influence the American election have been well documented, but the United States was hardly alone in this respect. Manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 17 other countries over the past year, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate. Although some governments sought to support their interests and expand their influence abroad—as with Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe—in most cases they used these methods inside their own borders to maintain their hold on power…”

J.F.K. Assassination Records now fully searchable free

The Black Vault‏ @blackvaultcom – “Just converted 52,000+ ARRB Emails into searchable .pdf files – now indexed on #JFKFiles Search tool at #blackvault. The search engine has 12,742,440 terms – consisting 100% of the recent #JFKFiles release.” Continue Reading

Research – The Slippery Slope of Internet Censorship in Egypt

Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University – “The first Internet Monitor research bulletin summarizes the recent, dramatic increase in Internet censorship in Egypt, examines the Twitter conversation around website blocking in Egypt, and identifies ways that users disseminate banned content.” “Internet filtering in Egypt illustrates how censorship can be a slippery slope. After an extended period… Continue Reading

First FBI Crime Report Issued Under Trump Eliminated Major Data Analytics

The First FBI Crime Report Issued Under Trump Is Missing A Ton Of Info – “Every year, the FBI releases a report that is considered the gold standard for tracking crime statistics in the United States: the Crime in the United States report, a collection of crime statistics gathered from over 18,000 law-enforcement agencies in… Continue Reading

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection – NARA

“The National Archives today released 2,891 records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that are subject to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act). These records are available for download online. The President has also ordered that all remaining records governed by section 5 of the… Continue Reading

NIH emails reveal divisions over renewal of gun research program

Science: “For weeks, questions have swirled around the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) decision to shelve a firearms research program that was launched at the urging of former President Barack Obama’s administration after 20 children and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, late in 2012. Among other… Continue Reading

FOIA request yields DOJ opinions blocking appointment of presidential relatives

Politico: “…The Justice Department has released a series of recently overruled legal memos concluding that presidents cannot appoint their relatives to the White House staff or presidential commissions, even to unpaid posts. In January, a career Justice Department official essentially declared the earlier opinions erroneous or obsolete, clearing the way for President Donald Trump’s son-in-law,… Continue Reading

DOJ, 18F Report on “Discovery Phase” of National FOIA Portal

“Today, OIP is pleased to announce the results of its collaboration with GSA’s 18F team on the discovery phase of development of a National FOIA Portal.  As we enter development, we want to again solicit both public and agency participation in providing feedback on our work. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 directed the Office… Continue Reading

AALL Calls on Federal Courts to Address PACER Fees

News release: “The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) on September 6, 2017] filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calling on the judicial body to ensure that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) makes electronic federal court records freely available “to the greatest extent… Continue Reading

18F working on new centralized FOIA website

FedScoop: “The General Services Administration’s 18F digital services team has begun work to build a modern, centralized “portal” for Freedom of Information Act requests. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 directs the Department of Justice to create a “consolidated online request portal that allows a member of the public to submit a request for records under… Continue Reading

Propublica lifts the veil on unreported Trump appointees

ProPublica report [note – the site launched a terrific redesign that helps to highlight the strength of their investigative reporting] “President Donald Trump has left hundreds of government jobs unfilled that require a vote by the Senate. Yet his administration has installed more than 1,000 people through political appointments at every major federal agency, handing… Continue Reading

Online Employee Idea Forum at State Dept. Closed Down

Government Executive: “At the end of August, State Department employees will lose access to the in-house employee online forum called Sounding Board, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s staff announced in a departmentwide email on Aug. 17. Employees were told to archive any previous discussion items of interest because the past content will not be archived,… Continue Reading