Sunlight Foundation: 7 ideas to make the Freedom of Information Act better

When Sunlight signed onto the 50 Days of FOIA campaign, we expected to be adding our voice and ideas to those of dozens of other open government allies pushing for Congress to pass legislative reforms to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Thankfully, we are now celebrating Congress sending FOIA reform to President Barack Obama. S.337 is currently listed as pending legislation on the White House website. We hope the president signs it into law by or on the 50th anniversary of the law on July Fourth.

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The Sunlight Foundation is using IFTTT to make the government more open

You might call it a recipe for transparency.

Want to know when the president signs a bill into law? When congress votes on a bill? When a new legislator is representing you? Since 2014, The Sunlight Foundation has been connecting its massive trove of government data to IFTTT, the popular web service that connects things on the internet to other things. Continue…

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Sunlight Foundation: The FBI shouldn’t restrict the public’s right to know about our data

As The Washington Post reported this week, the FBI wants to exempt its growing database of fingerprints and photographs from Privacy Act rules. The Privacy Act of 1974, which was enacted as a way to ensure that federal agencies protected the expanding amount of private information that federal agencies held about the American people from inadvertent exposure, includes provisions that require agencies to tell individuals if their information is in a system and empower citizens to ensure that that information is correct.

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Sunlight Foundation: Lessons learned from a year of opening police data

It’s been almost a year since the White House first announced that it would be leading an effort to unite law enforcement agencies around the goal of achieving greater transparency through data.

In April, the White House Police Data Initiative (PDI) celebrated its progress by gathering leaders in the field for a two-day event to discuss the challenges and successes of releasing open police data to the public. The initiative began with 21 participating jurisdictions last May.

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How do states rank on campaign contribution disclosure?

During a presidential election — particularly one as compelling and unpredictable as this one — it can be easy to lose track of elections happening at the state level. It can be even easier to forget about state-level campaign finance, given the truly massive amounts spent at the federal level. But millions of dollars will be spent on state and local elections this year, too, and it’s just as important to track where this money comes from.

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Sunlight Foundation: Why should cities have an open data policy?

As more cities break into the world of transparency, policy remains an important piece of the open data puzzle.

But just how relevant and important is an open data policy to a successful open data program? What does it actually accomplish, not just symbolically, but functionally? Or, to put it more bluntly, why even have an open data policy? Continue…

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