Posts Tagged ‘Electronic Frontier Foundation’

Must read FOI stories – 7/25/14

Every week I do a roundup of the freedom of information stories around the Web. If you have an FOI story you want to share, send me an email or tweet me.

  • The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the United States Customs and Border Protection to compel the agency to produce documents relating to a relatively new comprehensive intelligence database of people and cargo crossing the U.S. border.

David Schick is the summer 2014 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern for SPJ,  reporting and researching public records and FOI issues. Contact him at or interact on Twitter: @davidcschick

Must read FOI stories – 6/6/14

Every week I’ll be doing a round up of the freedom of information stories around the Web. If you have an FOI story you want to share, send me an email or tweet me.

  • How can you get open records from private colleges? Find federal agencies they report to and request records: Internal Harvard report, obtained via FOIA request, shines light on ex-researcher’s misconduct.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation dukes it out with the Justice Department in court hearings. EFF sued the Justice Department for access to records showing opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which found some of the NSA’s domestic telephone surveillance unconstitutional.
  • Michigan House of Representatives passes bill affirming the confidentiality of gun records and keeps them exempt from FOIA. The bill codifies a 1999 Michigan Supreme Court Decision that gun records disclosure was “a clearly unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy.”
  • Investigative Reporters & Editors have an awesome FOI podcast, aptly named FOIA Frustrations​. You should listen to it.

David Schick is the summer 2014 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern for SPJ,  reporting and researching public records and FOI issues. Contact him at or interact on Twitter: @davidcschick

FOI Daily Dose: Fighting for access to federally funded research, California Public Records Act at stake

EFF fights for access to federally funded research

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling all free information advocates to stand against major publishers they say are working to limit access to taxpayer-funded research through a program called CHORUS.

The Association of American Publishers proposed CHORUS (Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States) on June 5 as a way to help readers freely access full-text versions of all peer-review articles that report federally funded research.

But the EFF calls the proposal a “deceptive” way for publishers to control access to content and avoid losing profits from their traditional business model, which involves selling research-based articles back to scientists and institutions for a “massive profit.

The publishers coalition hopes to have an initial proof of concept for CHORUS completed by August 30. In the meantime, the EFF is encouraging open access advocates to tell their representatives in Congress to support a different solution called the Fair Access to Science & Technology Research (FASTR) Act. Under FASTR, federally funded researchers must submit copies of the resulting journal articles to funding agencies that make the research freely available within six months, according to EFF.

California Public Records Act at stake

The fate of public records in California is in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown this week, who is expected to sign Senate Bill 71, allowing local government agencies to sidestep key provisions in California’s Public Records Act, according to Southern California Public Radio KPCC.

According to an 11th hour “trailer bill” to the new state budget, agencies no longer have to explain why they are unable to meet records requests, and if they do meet the requests, they can provide data in the format of their choosing.

The California Department of Finance calls the decision a budget move that could save the state “tens of millions of dollars a year,” according to KPCC.

But in a letter calling for the governor to veto the “relevant portions” of the bill, Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said the legislation will allow local authorities to cut off public access without reason and “ gut key transparency safeguards in California’s most important open-government law.”

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

FOI DAILY DOSE: FBI’s secret surveillance and a CIA lawsuit for post-9/11 files

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the U.S. Department of Justice clashed over the nondisclosure of a secret legal memo that justifies the FBI’s ability to access citizen phone records without the inclusion of any oversight or legal process.

EFF filed a FOIA lawsuit Thursday demanding release of the memo, according to an EFF press release.

Last year, a report from the DOJ Inspector General stated the FBI had found a new way to justify this telephone access that was corroborated by an opinion issued by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.

The report was redacted and failed to disclose the statutes that form the backbone of this legal justification and to explain the kinds of records to which the new exception applies.

The CIA is also facing a FOIA lawsuit.

Filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the lawsuit demands records about the CIA Inspector General’s report on the treatment of people detained outside the U.S. after Sept.11. It also requests information on an internal investigation into the Office of the Inspector General itself that was reported in 2007 by The New York Times.

The initial FOIA request was submitted on April 25, according to the lawsuit, but the CIA hasn’t disclosed the records or explained its reasoning for withholding any information.

The lawsuit cites articles about Osama bin Laden’s death and the revival of debates about the use of torture techniques as a key reason for requesting the immediate release of the requested documents.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


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