The TSA spent $1.4M on an app to tell it who gets a random search

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"TSA Randomizer" is an Ipad app that tells TSA official swhich search-lane to send fliers down, randomly directing some of them to secondary screening. Read the rest

Chelsea Manning gets the US Army to cough up its "insider threat" training docs

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Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning writes, "I filed my Freedom of Information Act request in 2014 for Training Material related to the Insider Threat Program. I had almost forgoten about it, when the package arrived in the mail. In it was this slideshow." Read the rest

Petition: tell Obama to stand by commitment to "most transparent administration in history"

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Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "President Obama has said he's running the 'most transparent administration in history.' But new documents reveal that his administration secretly lobbied to kill transparency reform legislation that had broad bipartisan support and would have made it easier for journalists and citizens to file FOIA requests that help keep the government open and accountable." Read the rest

Lawsuit reveals Obama's DoJ sabotaged Freedom of Information Act transparency

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The Obama administration declared itself to be the "most transparent administration in history," but a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that Obama's Justice Department worked tirelessly behind the scenes to kill any chance of increased Freedom of Information Act access to governments at all levels, from lobbying Congress to kill FOIA reform to urging other administrative agencies to obstruct FOIA requests. Read the rest

DoD wants $660M to respond to Freedom of Information request on "Hotplugs"

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The Department of Defense sent Muckrock a demand for $660 million as a requirement for fulfilling a Freedom of Information Act request for records about the Hotplug, a gadget that allows you to transport computers without shutting them down -- used by law enforcement to move suspect computers to forensic facilities without shutting them down and potentially parking drives in an encrypted state. Read the rest

FBI claims it has no records of its decision to delete its recommendation to encrypt your phone

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Two years ago, the FBI published its official advice to "protect your mobile device," including a recommendation to encrypt your storage. This year, the FBI is suing Apple to force it to break its encryption. Read the rest

Danish government let America's Snowden-kidnapping jet camp out in Copenhagen

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The Gulfstream, tail number N977GA, was given permission to land in and fly over Denmark, and spent some time parked in Copenhagen, waiting to snatch Edward Snowden and kidnap him to America. Read the rest

Anaheim: the happiest surveillance state on earth

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Orange County has many claims to fame: Richard Nixon, the S&L scandal, subprime boiler-rooms, Disneyland, an airport honoring a cowboy named Marion, and now, the revelation that its police force secretly uses low-flying surveillance aircraft to break the encryption of thousands of cellphone users, track their movements, and intercept their communications. Read the rest

The Police Use of Force project: a scorecard for America's police-department policies

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A group of activists, data scientists and policy analysts have conducted a survey of the use of force policies in place in America's cities, ranking them by whether they meet four common-sense criteria: whether the priority of force is "preserving life"; whether officers are required to de-escalate situations; whether officers are allowed to choke civilians; and whether officers are required to intervene to prevent their colleagues from using excessive force. Read the rest

That time the DoD paid Duke U $335K to investigate ESP in dogs. Yes, dogs.

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "Government research often pushes the boundaries between science and science fiction. Today, the proud bearer of that mantle is often DARPA, experimenting with robots, cybernetics, and more. But in the sixties, during the height of the Cold War, this research often went into more fantastical realms, even exploring whether ExtraSensory Perception (ESP) was possible. Thanks to FOIA, MuckRock looks back on the paranormal history of American surveillance." Read the rest

How the National Reconnaissance Office came to choose a sinister, planet-devouring octopus for a logo

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "When the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced the upcoming launch of their NROL-39 mission back in December 2013, they didn't get quite the response they hoped. That might have had something to do with the mission logo being a gigantic octopus devouring the Earth. Researcher Runa Sandvik wanted to know who approved this and why, so she filed a Freedom of Information Act with the NRO for the development materials that went into the logo. A few months later, the NRO delivered." Read the rest

Worried about Chinese spies, the FBI freaked out about Epcot Center

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Muckrock has secured the FBI's files on Epcot Center, revealing the panicked thrash that the prospect of a semi-circle of international pavilions around a toy artificial lake set off in Cold War atmosphere of 1981. Read the rest

NSA says it will take four years to answer questions about its kids' coloring book

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The NSA's Crypto Cat and her friends are a set of trademark-registered kids' characters who have appeared for more than a decade in promotional materials like coloring books that the NSA uses it to encourage kids to grow up to be spies. Read the rest

UK government spent a fortune fighting to keep the number 13 a secret

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The BBC's Social Affairs Correspondent, Michael Buchanan, wanted to know how often the UK government's new "red tape-busting cabinet panel, the Reducing Regulation Committee" was meeting, because he thought that it was probably "all froth and no action." Read the rest

Recreating the CIA's "top secret" abstract painting collection

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In the 1980s, "controversial Republican art collector" Vincent Melzac donated 29 abstract paintings from the Washington Color School to the CIA, which now hang on the Agency's walls, but when asked for details about them, the CIA goes mum, claiming that the paintings are top secret. Read the rest

UK Home Secretary rejects request for her browsing history as "vexatious"

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UK Home Secretary Theresa May has introduced the Snoopers Charter, through which your ISP will be required to retain a record of everything you do on the Internet and make it available to government and police without meaningful checks and balances or privacy protection. Read the rest

UK police rely heavily on cyberweapons but won't answer any questions about them

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The UK police and security services have frequently touted the necessity of "equipment interference" techniques -- cyberweapons used to infect suspects' computers -- in their investigations, but they have refused to release any information about their use in response to 40 Freedom of Information requests from Motherboard. Read the rest

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