‘Antidote for the distrust in law enforcement is transparency,’ California coalition leader writes

Opening police records to routine and systematic public scrutiny is the way to stop officer misconduct, argues First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder in an op-ed published in The Mercury News. Snyder wrote in support of California bills to enhance police transparency, including SB 16, which would require disclosure of records related to misconduct….


California coalition sues county for access to COVID-19 data

The California-based First Amendment Coalition has sued a county in the state for violating California’s Public Records Act. Ventura County officials have refused to disclose information about COVID-19 deaths and about outbreaks at businesses and other non-residential settings. “It’s troubling that government officials would so blatantly disregard their transparency obligations at a time when people…


Panel will share tips on fighting for access to public records

Nancy Ancrum of the Miami Herald will lead a discussion with journalists Andrea Gallo of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., and Derek Kravitz of the Brown Institute, along with First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder. The panel will discuss tips for fighting for open government and records access. The event is Thursday, March 18 at 10 am. PST via Zoom. The…


First Amendment Coalition honors Ferndale Enterprise publisher

The First Amendment Coalition awarded Ferndale Enterprise publisher/editor Caroline Titus the 2016 Free Speech & Open Government Award on Thursday during the California Press Foundation’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

“I am extremely proud to be honored by such a prestigious organization. I’m also honored to represent the 138-year-old Ferndale Enterprise and our readers who support our efforts to stand up for the First Amendment and open and transparent government,” she said in an email.


Nevada Governor’s text messages should be made public, experts say

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has weak legal and public policy grounds to defend his decision to withhold text messages between himself and the leadership of NV Energy, according to open government experts, if the examples in other states and cities were to be followed in Nevada.

Courts and attorneys general in at least 18 states have addressed the issue, of which “decisions have overwhelmingly favored public access,” according to a paper written by Joey Senat, a professor who teaches media law at Oklahoma State University.


Media outlets push FISC for info on secret government surveillance

From Courthouse News Service: WASHINGTON (CN) – The once-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has mishandled demands to reveal the government's attempted justifications of its program of collecting the call and email data of Americans, a media coalition said.

Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press filed the amicus brief with the FISC, just before Thanksgiving last week, alongside Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Courthouse News Service and 21 other media organizations.


Peter Scheer: NSA may have adhered to legal rules, but legal rules can’t keep up with changes in surveillance technology

From First Amendment Coalition: A year or two from now, when investigators have taken stock of all the revelations in the NSA records released by Edward Snowden, the verdict is likely to be that the exposed NSA surveillance activities were NOT unlawful.


Peter Scheer: NYT still has the power to alter the facts of the very story on which it is reporting

From First Amendment Coalition: Long gone are the days when major newspapers and network news operations had the power, through their selection of stories, to set the political agenda. That's a change for the better, to be sure. But the best of the ancient media regime are still peerless in their ability to compel change in the actions of the people and institutions they report on.


California Public Records Act gravely threatened by stealth amendments

The California Public Records Act (CPRA) is gravely threatened by stealth amendments revealed for the first time yesterday as part of a "trailer bill" to the new state budget. Instead of the relatively minor cost-saving tweaks proposed earlier by the Governor and approved in legislative committees, the actual amending language will gut key transparency safeguards in California's most important open-government law.