Tag Archives | Freedom of Information

Obama Administration Proposes Weakening Freedom Of Information Act

freedom of information actObama pushes for officials to gain the right to lie about the existence of documents or materials. Via the Denver Post:

The federal Freedom of Information Act was supposed to be a torch that journalists, advocates and ordinary people could use to cast a light on the operations of their government. It’s profoundly disappointing to see the Obama administration proposing changes to FOIA that would allow federal agencies to lie about the very existence of information being sought.

The worst among them is the proposed change that would allow the government to tell those requesting information under FOIA that the material does not exist when, in fact, it does. The change would apply to certain law enforcement or national security documents.

Currently, the government can issue what is called a Glomar response, which is when the government neither confirms nor denies the existence of the material.

That term was coined after a Los Angeles Times reporter in the mid-1970s attempted to obtain information about the CIA’s Glomar Explorer, a vessel built to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

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How To See Your NSA Or FBI File

your nsa or fbi file

Truth be told, it may be disappointing not to have an FBI file. Daily Kos writes:

Have you ever Tweeted a politically subversive message, attended a protest, or signed an oppositional petition? If so, you may have a dedicated file on you kept by the FBI and/or the NSA.

With a simple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, any U.S. citizen can obtain one’s NSA or FBI file, if such a file exists.

getmyfbifile.com will, free of charge, generate the necessary forms for you already filled out. Of course, you can also do this directly through the NSA or FBI if you are worried about providing personal information to an independent site.

While an appropriate level of cynicism may be warranted concerning the transparency one should expect from such a request – should your file be substantial – it is the law that your complete file be provided to you. It is your right to know this information.

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Court Rules Google’s Relationship With The NSA Can Remain Secret

relationship with NSA

Be careful what you search? Via Forbes one week ago:

In the ruling Friday, the DC Circuit court decided that the National Security Agency doesn’t need to confirm or deny its relationship with Google in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, ruling that a FOIA exemption covers any documents whose exposure might hinder the NSA’s national security mission.

After Google revealed in early 2010 that it had been hacked by cyberspies seemingly based in China, the Washington Post reported that Google and the NSA had partnered to help bolster the company’s defenses against future attacks. NSA director Mike McConnell [stated] that a partnership with Google was “inevitable.”

The ruling comes as controversy has been growing around CISPA, a bill that passed the House last month that would allow private firms like Google to share a wide range of information with government agencies like the NSA for cybersecurity reasons.

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“Obey”: A Brutally Honest New Film By British Filmmaker Temujin Doran

I could call this film many things:

“A chilling view of the future”

“A harrowing tale of what we may become”

Based on the book The Death of the Liberal Class by Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, “Obey” brutally conveys our present reality, perhaps in the hope that we may finally wake as a united humanity.

We have been lulled into a state of being in which we are not confronted with monolithic decisions where we choose Liberty or Death; instead we are fed a steady diet of mini-compromises in our lives that we often choose wrongly upon.

I myself and totally guilty of this, but the overall result is a total compromise of every single piece of our dignity and personal sovereignty.  So say that things are as they truly are is a radical notion that may get you shot in the face with a gas canister, like the military veteran of the Oakland Occupy protests or thrown into prison indefinitely like Bradley Manning.… Read the rest

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The Pirate Bay To Team Up With North Korea

Updated: The announcement of this insane-sounding collaboration turns out to be a hoax, sadly, but imagine what could have been.

An announcement of strange bedfellows by The Pirate Bay:

The Pirate Bay has been hunted in many countries around the world. Today we can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network.

This is truly an ironic situation. We have been fighting for a free world, and our opponents are mostly huge corporations from the United States of America, a place where freedom and freedom of speech is said to be held high. And to our help comes a government famous in our part of the world for locking people up for their thoughts and forbidding access to information.

We believe that being offered our virtual asylum in Korea is a first step of this country’s changing view of access to information.

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World Wide Web Creator Denies ‘Off Switch’

Sir Tim Berners-Lee says we must be cautious of attempts to centralize the internet. Via Yahoo! News:

The inventor of the world wide web has denied there is an “off-switch” which could turn off the internet across the globe. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the web on Christmas Day 1990, said the only way the internet could ever be entirely shut down is if governments all over the world co-ordinated to make it a centralised system.

It comes after moves by the Egyptian government last year to suppress use of the web led to speculation that the Hosni Mubarak regime had found a kill switch for the internet.

The 57-year-old computer scientist [Berners-Lee] said: “The way the internet is designed is very much as a decentralised system. At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off-switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.

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Why Is There No HTTP Code For Censorship?

When your viewing a website is blocked due to censorship, should your internet service provider should inform you? A 403 or 404 error code amounts to lying, argues Terance Eden. Some have suggested a new ‘451’ internet censorship signifier, inspired by Ray Bradbury:

There is no HTTP code for censorship. But perhaps there should be.

My ISP have recently been ordered to censor The Pirate Bay. I am concerned that this [sort of] censorship will become more prevalent. As network neutrality dies, we will see more sites ordered to be blocked by governments who fear what they cannot understand. However, chief among my concerns is the technical way this censorship is implemented. At the moment, my ISP serves up an HTTP 403 error.

$ wget -v thepiratebay.org
Resolving thepiratebay.org… 194.71.107.50
Connecting to thepiratebay.org|194.71.107.50|:80… connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 403 Forbidden

As far as I am concerned, this response is factually incorrect.

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Google Calls Its Report on Government Takedown Requests “Troubling,” “Free Expression Is At Risk”

Via Google’s Official Blog:

About two years ago, we launched our interactive Transparency Report. We started by disclosing data about government requests. Since then, we’ve been steadily adding new features, like graphs showing traffic patterns and disruptions to Google services from different countries. And just a couple weeks ago, we launched a new section showing the requests we get from copyright holders to remove search results.

The traffic and copyright sections of the Transparency Report are refreshed in near-real-time, but government request data is updated in six-month increments because it’s a people-driven, manual process. Today we’re releasing data showing government requests to remove blog posts or videos or hand over user information made from July to December 2011.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers.

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Julian Assange: The Price of Being A Western Dissident

Julian Assange is doing humanity a favour by exposing through the US Embassy Cables that “Oil motivates U.S. policy more than fighting terrorists,” and that the killing and torturing of tens of thousands of civilians by the US and NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Iraq War Logs and Afghanistan War Logs were evidence of war crimes.

However, to Assange’s dismay, as a western dissident, he does not enjoy the soft-power of being a Chinese dissident; the “free” world politicians not only fail to acknowledge the nobility of his work in exposing human rights violations and war crimes committed by NATO and the US, President Obama described his act as a “deplorable documents dump”; former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich believed that he should be “ treated as an enemy combatant”; Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell called him a “high-tech terrorist”; while Sarah Palin wanted him to be “hunted down like al-Qaeda”; Other politicians including some mainstream media “pundits openly calling for his death”.… Read the rest

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