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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

NARA Drives Govt Transition to All-Electronic Records

Secrecy News: “The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is embarking on an ambitious effort to phase out the acquisition of paper records by 2022 and to transition to all-electronic record keeping. The White House Office of Management and Budget has endorsed the initiative and has directed all federal agencies to adopt exclusively electronic formats for managing permanent records. But the move is generating anxiety about the feasibility of the transition and the possible unanticipated consequences for public access to government records. “The most significant part of [the new policy is the provision for NARA] to stop accepting paper records by December 31, 2022,” wrote David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, in a June 28 notice to NARA employees. Accordingly, the Acting Director of OMB directed all agency heads to plan to operate all but exclusively in an all-electronic environment.

By December 31, 2022, all permanent records in Federal agencies will be managed electronically to the fullest extent possible for eventual transfer and accessioning by NARA in an electronic format,” the June 28 OMB memo stated. After 2022, agencies will be obliged to convert any remaining permanent analog records in their possession to digital formats for transfer to NARA. The new policy shows some signs of carelessness in its formulation. The paragraphs in the OMB memorandum are incorrectly numbered. The text includes reference to a “section 2.2” which does not exist. Meanwhile, several more substantial concerns have been raised by dissenting observers and employees. “There are significant and crucial [paper] records that have not been, and will not be, transferred into the system by 2022,” said one records specialist who is critical of the new policy. These include some original Department of State SCI-level records dating back to the 1940s, as well as many classified original records from CIA, NRO, NSA, DoD/OSD, and FBI that have been withheld from the National Archives…”

Anti-Piracy Efforts Are Unlikely to Beat Sci-Hub

Follow-up to previous posting with related links – Elsevier sends copyright threat to site for linking to Sci-Hub – see Torrent Freak – “Elsevier and other academic publishers see ‘pirate’ site Sci-Hub as a major threat to their billion-dollar industries. Many researchers, however, can’t function properly without the notorious site. Since anti-piracy efforts are unlikely… Continue Reading

Proposed White House Executive Order would have FCC and FTC police alleged social media censorship

CNN Business: “A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of shaping how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate what appears on their websites, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN, calls for… Continue Reading

A librarian’s case against overdue book fines

TED Talk – Dawn Wacek – she  advocates for equitable library service for all community members. “Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there’s one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes… Continue Reading

Edward Snowden memoir to reveal whistleblower’s secrets

The Guardian – In Permanent Record, the former spy will recount how his mass surveillance work eventually led him to make the biggest leak in history – “After multiple books and films about his decision to leak the biggest cache of top-secret documents in history, whistleblower Edward Snowden is set to tell his side of the… Continue Reading

California privacy act interpretation could make common newsgathering practice unlawful

Reporters Committee for Freedom of Information – ” The California court of appeal is considering an expansive interpretation of state privacy law — in a pending lawsuit pending involving Yelp — that would make it unlawful to take notes during telephone conversations. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 17… Continue Reading

White House Blocked Report on Climate Change and National Security

The New York Times – The White House Blocked My Report on Climate Change and National Security – Politics intruded on science and intelligence. “That’s why I quit my job as an analyst for the State Department. Ten years ago, I left my job as a tenured university professor to work as an intelligence analyst… Continue Reading

The FOIA Charade: A Brief Case Study

Kelley Green Law Blog , Joseph Green, July 20, 2019: “With the release last month of proposed new EPA regulations on how the agency intends to handle responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), critics have raised concerns about provisions that would give authority to senior management officials (i.e., political appointees) to… Continue Reading

New York Review of Books – Real Americans

Joseph O’Neil – August 15, 2019 Issue – Reviewing: This America: The Case for the Nation by Jill Lepore Liveright, 150 pp., and This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto by Suketu Mehta Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp. “A poignant quality of anachronism threatens these exigent, idealistic books by the writer-professors Jill Lepore… Continue Reading

Under Trump, 26% of Climate Change References Have Vanished From .Gov Sites

Vice – A new report documents two years of science being scrubbed from government websites. “The Trump administration has undermined the fight against climate change by suffocating facts and science on government websites, according to a federal watchdog group that monitors thousands of government pages for changes. A report published by the Environmental Data &… Continue Reading

E-Nudging Justice: The Role of Digital Choice Architecture in Online Courts

Sela, Ayelet, E-Nudging Justice: The Role of Digital Choice Architecture in Online Courts (March 18, 2019). 2019 Journal of Dispute Resolution 127 ( 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3414176 “Justice systems around the world are launching online courts and tribunals in order to improve access to justice, especially for self-represented litigants (SRLs). Online courts are designed… Continue Reading

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… Continue Reading