Kim Davis isn't doing her job. Again.

Rowan County, KY Clerk Kim Davis [Reuters]

Kim Davis isn't doing her job again. Michael from Muckrock writes, "This time, she's falling short on responding to public records requests, particularly one relating to her controversial visit with Pope Francis." Read the rest

Walt Disney's plan for the FBI of tomorrow


Michael from Muckrock: "Union-busting Walt Disney became cozy with J. Edgar Hoover, the iconic animator's FBI files show, helping shut down dissident workers while infusing Disney programming with fond portrayals of federal enforcement. Disney even wanted to dedicate a special section of Tomorrowland to highlighting the Bureau of tomorrow -- which ended up being a step too far for America's head investigative agency." Read the rest

Campus cops: all the powers of real cops, none of the accountability


Michael from Muckrock writes, "Want some transparency from your local police? Then public records law is probably on your side if you're in the US -- unless you happen to be a college student. MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave looks at the broad exemptions that give campus police almost all the rights and powers of regular cops, without any of the public accountability."

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FBI used Burning Man to field-test new surveillance equipment

The FBI's 2012 file on its Burning Man surveillance, obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests, reveals that America's domestic spy agency for at least five years, and has been using the event as an opportunity to try out its latest toys, with help from Pershing County sheriff's deputies. Read the rest

After Katrina, FBI prioritized cellphone surveillance

Michael from Muckrock sez, "There's a lot of lessons that the federal government should have learned in the aftermath of Katrina. Increased domestic surveillance, however, appears to be the one the FBI took to heart, using the natural disaster as a justification for ramping up its use of Stingray cell phone tracking throughout Louisiana after the storm." Read the rest

The FBI kept files on author Ray Bradbury: "Definitely slanted against the United States"

Michael from Muckrock writes, "The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare." Read the rest

FBI opened a file on George Carlin for telling "bad taste" Hoover jokes

Michael from Muckrock writes, "After George Carlin satirized FBI and J. Edgar Hoover in a bit "considered to be in very poor taste" (but which was incredibly tame by Carlin standards), the Bureau took a special interest in the famed comedian, starting a file and sending out queries across the country as to Carlin's loyalties and background." Read the rest

Kansas officials stonewall mathematician investigating voting machine "sabotage"

Wichita State University's Beth Clarkson (who is also chief statistician of WSU's National Institute for Aviation Research) discovered "odd patterns" in Kansas electoral voting records, so she requested public docs to help her get to the bottom of things -- requests that state officials ignored, dodged, and stalled. Read the rest

Help EFF and Muckrock find out how your biometrics are being tracked

Mike from Muckrock sez, "Police departments are increasingly tracking your face, your fingerprints, your tattoos -- and even your DNA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock are working to uncover how local agencies are tracking you and bring some much-needed transparency to the murky world of biometric surveillance through a free public records audit. Read the rest

Check whether Hacking Team demoed cyberweapons for your local cops

Michael from Muckrock sez, "Turns out death squads aren't the only agencies buying Hacking Squad's controversial spyware. Town from Miami Shores, FL to Eugene, OR appeared on a list of US agencies that received demonstrations from the hacked surveillance vendor. MuckRock has mapped out who was on the lists, and is working to FOIA what these towns actually bought, if anything. Check and see if your city is on the map." Read the rest

Paul Erdős's FBI file

Michael from Muckrock sez, "A Hungarian born in the early 20th century, Paul Erdős, mathematician, was well-known and well-liked, the sort of eccentric scientist from the Soviet sphere that made Feds' ears perk up in mid-century America." Read the rest

IRS responds to records request with encrypted CD full of blacked-out documents

Michael sez, "Sometimes a simple 'no' can be better than what agencies consider a response when it comes to Freedom of Information. J. Pat Brown over at FOIA powerhouse MuckRock discovered that the hard way when, after a request for information on information about the IRS's whisteblower office resulted in documents being sent on a CD ... that was fully encrypted ... using a Windows only app ... where the password was sent along in a separate letter." Read the rest

Laura Poitras sues the US Government to find out why she was repeatedly detained in airports

The Oscar-winning documentarian, who directed Citizenfour, was detained and searched over 50 times, but the breaking-point was when the US Government refused to respond to her Freedom of Information Act request for the reasons for her harassment. Read the rest

McKinney, TX wants $79K to retreive emails of the cop who tackled bikini-clad teen

McKinney is Texas's worst-ranked city for open records requests, and says that it will have to hire a programmer to write entirely new code to search its old, "unsearchable" email system for the emails of Officer Eric Casebolt, who made headlines by tackling a young black girl in a bikini at a pool party and threatening her with his gun. Read the rest

How the UK Prime Minister's office gets around Freedom of Information requests

Weeks before the 2005 Freedom of Information Act came into effect, Tony Blair's government instituted a policy of automatically purging all calendar items and emails after three months. Read the rest

Emails: corporate lobbyist thanks US Trade Rep for pasting his wish-list right into TPP

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit has extracted emails between corporate lobbyists and US Trade Rep officials working on the secretive, corrupt Trans Pacific Partnership treaty. Read the rest

On Allen Ginsberg's 89th birthday, read his FBI file

Mike from Muckrock sez, "'My name is Allen Ginsberg and I sleep with whoever I want.' So noted the FBI, in its 89 pages tracking the life, lovers, and political activism of the American poet, who was born this day in 1926." Read the rest

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