FOI Advocate News Blog

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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

October 16, 2013 12:40 PM

From Mondaq: Governmental entities in Texas, and the companies that transact with them, should be aware of new changes in Texas "open government" law that may affect how they do business. On September 1, 2013, changes in state law became effective that are intended to make Texas "open government" law more open. These changes affect the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) and the obligations of public officials, employees and private companies to comply with Texas open records law.


Records of a private entity under contract with the State are subject to open records laws, to the extent the records are considered public information.


The definition of media containing public information has been updated to include a variety of electronic communications.

Visit Mondaq for more.



October 16, 2013 12:33 PM

From Boing Boing: Freedom of the Press Foundation has taken charge of the DeadDrop project, an open-source whistleblower submission system originally coded by the late transparency advocate Aaron Swartz. In the coming months, the Foundation will also provide on-site installation and technical support to news organizations that wish to run the system, which has been renamed “SecureDrop.”

By installing SecureDrop, news organizations around the world can securely accept documents from whistleblowers, while better protecting their sources’ anonymity. Although it is important to note that no security system can ever be 100 percent impenetrable, Freedom of the Press Foundation believes that this system is the strongest ever made available to media outlets. Several major news agencies have already signed up for installations, and they will be announced in the coming weeks.

Visit Boing Boing for more.



October 16, 2013 12:08 PM

From Temple Daily Telegram: Following an early July visit to the Bell County Sheriff’s Department to get copies of new jail administrator Nancy Botkin’s personnel file as part of a Public Information Act request, in September I received a mailed letter from the Texas Attorney General’s office regarding certain information that the sheriff’s office had redacted.

The information that was requested, with certain redactions, was mailed on July 9, within 10 days of the information request.

Visit Temple Daily Telegram for more.



October 16, 2013 12:05 PM

From CT News Junkie: A task force weighing the privacy rights of crime victims against open access to public records under the Freedom of Information Act will have its third and final public hearing Wednesday morning in the Legislative Office Building.

The group was created as part of a new law restricting the release of some police records pertaining to homicide victims and victims who are children. The bill was passed by lawmakers after families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting appealed to the legislature to stop the release of records pertaining to the Dec. 14 incident.

Visit CT News Junkie for more.



October 16, 2013 11:57 AM

From West Virginia's highest court is scheduled to weigh arguments over whether state police are required to open their records on allegations of abuse and misconduct by officers.


State police want to keep those details a secret. They argue releasing them would be an invasion of officers' privacy.

Visit for more.



October 16, 2013 11:50 AM

From The News Tribune: I guess I could understand one or two candidates failing to complete the questionnaire that seeks their views on open government issues facing the state.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government's questionnaire is one of many that candidates receiving during campaign season.

But of the 15 Tacoma candidates the coalition sent invitations to, just two replied.


Coalition President Toby Nixon said candidates were sent e-mails to the addresses listed with their candidate filing. Those without e-mail addresses were sent post cards. Nearly 200 candidates did respond to give their views on questions related to recent court decisions limiting access to open meetings and legislation proposed that would curtail access to government records.

Visit The News Tribune for more.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a member of NFOIC. --eds



October 16, 2013 11:30 AM

From The Boston Globe: BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing bills designed to make it easier for the public to obtain state records.

Among the bills are proposals to increase access to public records in an electronic format or over the Internet, rather than with paper copies.

Visit The Boston Globe for more.



October 16, 2013 11:28 AM

From World: Legal watchdog Judicial Watch has filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demanding the U.S. Department of Defense turn over all records of communications between Pentagon officials and controversial anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein.

Weinstein is the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an organization that aggressively seeks to curtail the rights of Christians in the military. Religious liberty advocates are concerned that Weinstein’s unfettered access to the Pentagon’s most senior leadership, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, unduly influenced military policies and threatens the freedom of religious expression.

Visit World for more.



October 16, 2013 11:24 AM

From Portage Daily Register: The First Amendment is very clear in its 45 words that it protects a “free press” along with our rights to religious freedom, free speech and the rights to assemble and petition.

But the founders, in effect, placed a responsibility on that free press in return for being the only profession named in the Bill of Rights: The news media were to be a “watchdog on government,” providing us with the facts, perspective and sometimes contrarian views that help citizens better chart the course of their government.

One of the latest versions of that centuries-old daily duty is playing out in a Wisconsin courtroom, where a coalition of news and freedom of information groups are trying to extract information from closed court records about a previously undisclosed email system involving Milwaukee County officials.

Visit Portage Daily Register for more.



October 16, 2013 11:20 AM

From Santa Fe New Mexican: Just weeks before the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government sued Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration for withholding a controversial audit report, the chairwoman of the foundation’s executive board was pitching the idea of giving Martinez — as well as Attorney General Gary King — an award for government transparency.

This is documented in emails released to The New Mexican by Terry Schleder, who recently was ousted as executive director of the organization for alleged “insubordination.” Schleder expressed concerns over a conservative tilt on the FOG executive board and called the awards discussion an example of FOG being too concerned with “protecting the powerful.”


FOG’s executive board chairwoman, Terri Cole, who also is executive director of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, denied Monday that the open-government organization leans conservative. “It is a very well-balanced board,” she said.

Cole said she saw no irony in nominating Martinez and King for a William S. Dixon Award — despite the fact that the governor has been the defendant in public-records suits and King was found by a judge to be in violation of the state Inspection of Public Records Act.

Visit Santa Fe New Mexican for more.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is a member of NFOIC. --eds



October 16, 2013 11:10 AM

From Huffington Post: Neil Abercrombie’s job as Hawaii governor takes him around the world.

Tourism meetings in Tokyo. A trade show in Los Angeles. A forum in Beijing.

Those kinds of trips sound pricey. But independently reviewing the travel expenses to see if they are worth taxpayers’ money is definitely cost-prohibitive.


One way to keep tabs on the public’s money is to review the governor’s travel records. That’s pretty standard procedure for journalists in most states, especially when an incumbent is up for reelection.

But it’s tough to do in Hawaii. The cost of public records effectively invalidates the state public records law in many instances. It’s just too expensive for the public to pay the price the agencies charge to review records that are legally available under the Uniform Information Practices Act, Hawaii’s decades-old public records law.

Visit Huffington Post for more. In addition, please read Honolulu Civil Beat's special report on the cost of Hawaii's public records here.


October 16, 2013 11:06 AM

From Chicago Tribune: (Reuters) - Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog issued new guidance late Monday that gives arbitrators more information about their responsibilities in a process that allows securities brokers to request the removal of customer complaints from their public records.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued the guidance just days before a group of lawyers for investors plan to issue a report finding fault with the regulator's system for clearing complaints from brokers' records, a process known as "expungement."

Visit Chicago Tribune for more.



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