The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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December 22, 2016 8:28 AM

The latest transparency report from Facebook, released on Wednesday, reveals a considerable uptick in requests from governments around the world during the first half of 2016.

According to figures from Facebook, government requests for user data from the social network jumped from 46,710 in the first half of 2015 to 59,229 in the first half of 2016, representing a 27 percent increase.

The full report reveals 23,854 of those requests—about 40 percent— came from United States law enforcement entities. Facebook produced data in more than 80 percent of those cases but according to the company, 56 percent of requests from U.S. law enforcement contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited the social network from notifying the user.

Read full article here.

 

December 21, 2016 3:59 PM

Hospital authorities and the hospitals they operate must be transparent.

The state’s highest court has the opportunity to send a strong message to all governing bodies that the public’s business must be public.

Open government is the law in Georgia.

We are pleased to learn the Georgia Supreme Court has agreed to consider the arguments of the Georgia Press Association, the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and plaintiff E. Kendrick Smith.

Northside Hospital in Atlanta had denied Smith’s open records request for financial records dating back to 2013. The authority’s position was simply that the hospital is not subject to the Georgia Open Records Act.

Northside’s nuanced argument continues to be that the hospital is not truly a public hospital but is a private nonprofit corporation, created by a hospital authority.

Read full article here.

 

open records
December 21, 2016 3:56 PM

Fact-based journalism now competes with false information for our attention while our cities and citizens become both more connected by technology and more divided by ideology and income. The values reflected in lines of code, whether it be at the ATM, when we search on internet or drive a car, are already affecting what we think, what we do and what information we share with those around us.

Read full article here.

First Amendment
December 21, 2016 3:51 PM

ust before Christmas, they're trying to rush through the Legislature two bills that will close the door on open government.

The first bill allows Governor Christie to make money off a book deal while still in office. The other eliminates posting of legal notices in newspapers and instead require it only online. Both were rushed out of Senate and Assembly Committees.

These bills are part of the same deal and it's shameful that the Legislature is going along with this. Once again, they're selling out to the governor, no matter how bad it is. These bills will be up for floor votes as soon as Monday. Everyone should call their legislators and demand an independent press and no book deal for Christie!

The legal notice bill is NJ's equivalent to the voter identification law. It undermines the democratic process by making it more difficult for many people to get important information. Without these notices, there will be no one to watch town councils, planning boards, and other governmental agencies.

Read full article here.

 

open government
December 21, 2016 3:48 PM

The San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the American Small Business League's (ASBL) Freedom Of Information Act Request (FOIA) case against the Pentagon on December 14, 2016. The hearing was held following the Pentagon's appeal to overturn the ruling that they disclose Sikorsky Aviation Corporation's most recent subcontracting plan submitted to the Pentagon's Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP).

The ASBL originally won their FOIA case against the Pentagon in November of 2014. Federal District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ordered the Pentagon to release the Sikorsky data to the ASBL after reviewing the information and deducing nothing in the report constituted as trade secret, proprietary or confidential financial information.

The ASBL believes the CSPTP has allowed the Pentagon's largest prime contractors to circumvent small business subcontracting goals by eliminating all transparency and penalties for non-compliance. Professor Charles Tiefer, a leading expert on federal contracting law, has written a legal opinion agreeing with the ASBL, calling the CSPTP a "sham" and "seriously harmful" to small businesses.

Read full article here.

December 21, 2016 3:43 PM

he state attorney general ruled Monday that the University of Kentucky violated the state’s Open Records Act when it failed to provide a detailed explanation why a request for emails and other records from the College of Law was delayed.

UK also failed to give William Teague, who requested the documents, a date for when the emails and other correspondence would be available, which the university is required to do under the state’s Open Records Act, the opinion found.

Jay Blanton, a spokesman for UK, said the university responded to Teague’s request last week, and the delay in responding to Teague was because Teague’s request involved thousands of pages of documents. UK will not appeal the attorney general’s decision.

Read full article here.

December 21, 2016 3:39 PM

 

More than 4,000 people gathered in Paris from 7-9th December for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit 2016 hosted by the Government of France. OGP is a unique partnership dedicated to making government decision making more open, inclusive and responsive. Summit attendees included representatives from 80 governments, many of them heads of state and senior ministers; leaders from cities, municipalities and regions; and leading civil society organizations from around the world.

The goal for the summit was to highlight the crucial role of open government as a countervailing force to the rise of various forms of nationalism and populism around the world. Although open government alone can’t solve this and other global challenges such as extreme poverty, climate change and mass migration, these problems can’t be solved without greater transparency and civic participation.
To that end, the summit yielded outcomes that can help reshape the future of open government and combat threats to democracy around the world.

Read full article here.

open government
December 21, 2016 3:22 PM

oday announced the general availability of its new Freedom Archive product -- designed to cost-effectively manage, store and access archive data from any cloud and any location. Freedom Archive is perfect for long-term management, storage and access of surveillance video, healthcare imaging, seismic data, life sciences information, and other valuable data. Today, customers such as Chevron, American College of Radiology, NBC Universal, Time Warner Cable, and multiple law enforcement agencies use Freedom Archive as their high performance, active archive solution.

Freedom Archive eliminates the need to store less frequently accessed data on expensive primary or secondary storage from vendors like NetApp or EMC or transfer it to more traditional archiving methods such as tape or optical disk. Instead, Freedom Archive combines the benefits of high-performance local cache for high speed, on demand access to important data with the economics and limitless capacity of cloud storage to make archiving of petabytes of data dramatically simpler, faster and less expensive.

Read full article here.

December 21, 2016 3:15 PM

Open data is data that can be used and re-distributed freely, by anyone. It extends to multiple sectors, such as weather, education, traffic and real estate. While there are many programs that look to help startups and scale-ups in North America, ODX Ventures looks to raise awareness of open data by focusing on businesses that use open data for commercial purposes.

“The ODX Ventures program provides us an opportunity to take advantage of the many business benefits open data provides,” said Jim Moss, Chief Happiness Officer at Plasticity Labs. “For Plasticity Labs in particular, it’ll help us gain a deeper understanding of what other factors impact people’s happiness in the workplace and across the rest of their lives."

Read full article here.

December 21, 2016 3:10 PM

law firm representing law enforcement agencies across the state has issued advice to at least several of the agencies that they have the right to withhold many records from public view, including agency budgets, payroll, contracts and inventory.

An attorney for Oklahoma City-based Collins, Zorn & Wagner cited as a basis for refusing to release such records, as well as case documents, a portion of the state Open Records Act that lists law enforcement records subject to public disclosure. Attorney Ammon Brisolara said if a document is not specifically listed in the statute, the law enforcement agency doesn’t have to make it public.

The list of records under the law enforcement section of the Open Records Act is increasingly being cited by agencies to deny requests for public records, said Joey Senat, a journalism professor at Oklahoma State University and a board member of Freedom of Information Oklahoma, which advocates for transparency in government.

Read full article here.

December 21, 2016 3:04 PM

The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled against the City of Davenport over Iowa Open Records Act violations and remanded a case back to Scott County District Court.

In 2015, the Scott County District Court ruled against Dr. Allen Diercks and Patricia Lane after they alleged Davenport had ignored Freedom of Information Act requests and signed contracts with Deloitte & Touche without City Council approval during the city's attempt to purchase the Rhythm City Casino.

The Court of Appeals analyzed the city's obligations to produce four items: Deloitte & Touche due diligence work product, a February 2013 invoice, the Deloitte Scope of Services document and a Jan. 9, 2013 legal memorandum from the city's legal consultant John Hintze.

Read full article here.

December 21, 2016 2:54 PM

Cloud storage giant Box won't say how many times it has turned over customer data to the government.

The company's policy stands out from the cloud storage crowd, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Dropbox, which along with other every internet and phone company in the Fortune 500, provide a biannual transparency report detailing the number of government requests and secret orders they receive.

A spokesperson for Box confirmed that the company doesn't issue a transparency report, adding that government requests for customer data is "strictly limited to the extent mandated and required by applicable law."

Read full article here.

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