At the beginning of this year, President Trump signed into law the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary Government Data Act, requiring that nonsensitive government data be made available in machine-readable, open formats by default. As researchers who study data governance and cyber law [Anjanette Raymond, Beth Cate and Scott Shackelford] we are excited by the possibilities of the new act. But much effort is needed to fill in missing details – especially since these data can be used in unpredictable or unintended ways. The federal government would benefit from considering lessons learned from open government activities in other countries and at state and local levels.
Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness.Note – four significant highlights of this week’s column: The web really isn’t worldwide – every country has different access; Measuring the “Filter Bubble”: How Google is influencing what you click; Grandparents Increasingly Targeted By Impostors Who Know ‘Everything’ About Them; Who lives with you? Facebook seeks to patent software to figure out profiles of households.
Brandon Wright Adler addresses the destruction of Presidential documents and records brought to our attention this past week in a rather startling article published by Politico – “The president’s unofficial ‘filing system’ involves tearing up documents into pieces, even when they’re supposed to be preserved.” As law librarians, we clearly understand the duty and responsibility to uphold the Presidential Records Act and to advocate that all such documents remain available to the public and researchers.
Nicole Black a Rochester, New York attorney and Legal Technology Evangelist delivers a clarion call for colleagues to expand their engagement with groups that work for civil liberties in the United States.
Professor Annmarie Bridy discusses the use of “transparency” as a metaphor for openness in government, the use of FOIA as a mechanism for ensuring such openness, and the ways in which proponents of greater public involvement in policy-making may disserve the cause by focusing too single-mindedly on access to information and the right to know, both of which are operationalized through FOIA.
Forensic intelligence analyst, legal adviser, lecturer, FOIA and Web expert, and Publisher of the Fringe journals (Dutch), Roger Vleugels has published his Summary of 2011 Update indicating that 88 countries now have a FOIA in power. This reflects 7 more than in last year’s update: El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guinea-Conakry, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Tunisia.
Scott A. Hodes notes that in the current Congress there are bills pending that would create a commission to come up with ideas for faster FOIA processing. He contends that by taking those ideas, along with a few days of congressional oversight hearings to solicit other opinions, Congress would have ample information to create an actual bill that would implement faster FOIA processing now rather than wait for a “commission” to come up with these same ideas.
Senators Patrick Leahy and John Cornyn have introduced a bill establishing a committee of citizens to make recommendations on improving FOIA performance. A similar version of this bill was introduced in 2005 and went nowhere fast, according to Scott A. Hodes.
Requesters who are new to using the FOIA statute often complain that they have filed a request within the last month but haven’t receive their documents yet. FOIA expert Scott A. Hodes explains that the congressional budgeting process does not specifically provide FOIA operations within an agency a set line item amount. Thus, FOIA Offices usually have limited resources from within their own agencies to fulfill requests.
Public interest law advocate Diana Philip’s commentary focuses specifically on the multifaceted, complex and challenging issues that encompass the dichotomy between reproductive health care and rights available to adult pregnant women and pregnant minors. Diana’s position includes references to seminal legal cases as well as to selected scholarly literature in the field of juvenile reproductive health.