Every judicial decision has been liberated from the US court system's paywall

US court records are not copyrighted, but the US court system operates a paywall called "PACER" that is supposed to recoup the costs of serving text files on the internet; charging $0.10/page for access to the public domain, and illegally profiting to the tune of $80,000,000/year. Read the rest

You can now read the financial disclosures of hundreds of Trump officials right here, online

For months, ProPublica has been gathering the disclosure forms that reveal the financial holdings and employment backgrounds of officials in the administration of President Donald Trump.

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SLIM: An open, transparent, hand-computable sentencing algorithm

Machine learning companies are making big bucks selling opaque, secretive sentencing algorithm tools to America's court systems: the vendors of these systems claim that they are too sophisticated to explain, and use that opacity to dismiss critics who say the algorithms oversentence black and poor people. Read the rest

The FBI's Gary Gygax file calls the original Dungeon Master "eccentric and frightening"

Reason Magazine's C.J. Ciaramella filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for the Bureau's file on TSR, the company that E Gary Gygax founded when he created Dungeons and Dragons (now a division of Hasbro). Read the rest

Apple, CTA and Big Car are working in secret to kill New York's Right to Repair legislation

Here's the list of companies that are quietly lobbying to kill New York State's Right to Repair legislation (previously), which would force companies to halt anticompetitive practices that prevent small businesses from offering repair services to their communities: "Apple, Verizon, Toyota, Lexmark, Caterpillar, Asurion, Medtronic" and the Consumer Technology Association "which represents thousands of electronics manufacturers." Read the rest

When Theresa May called snap elections, she killed tax-haven reform

One of the consistently underreported elements of Brexit and all that's come after it is that leaving the EU will also let the UK -- the world's most prolific launderer of filthy criminal money -- escape the tightening noose of European anti-money-laundering measures. Read the rest

In 1965, CIA agents were fired for staging a "free for all" food-fight in the cafeteria

The wording of the memo, dated 15 Sept 1965, suggests that this wasn't the first time it had happened and not even the first time the CIA had to fire agents for food-fighting. Read the rest

Leaked Inspector General's report reveals millions lost to incompetence and waste at the US Copyright Office

A leaked report from the Inspector General reveals that the US Copyright Office blew $11.6m trying to buy a computer system that should have cost $1.1m (they ended up canceling the project after spending the money and no computers were purchased in the end), then lied to Congress and the Library of Congress to cover up its errors. Read the rest

Meet the self-taught coder exposing California politics to the sunlight

Watch this inspiring summary of Rob Pyers' journey from laid-off grocery bagger to major player in following the money in California politics. Read the rest

UK Parliament to hold inquiry into algorithmic transparency

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee put out a public call for suggestions on subjects it should investigate and one of the three winning pitches came from Stephanie Mathisen, campaigns and policy officer at Sense about Science, who suggested an inquiry into transparency in algorithmic decision-making. Read the rest

Lawsuit forces DoJ to admit that Obama administration sneakily killed transparency bill

The Freedom of the Press Foundation's lawsuit against the DoJ has resulted in the release of documents showing that a bill with that was nearly unanimously supported in Congress and the Senate was killed by behind-the-scene lobbying by the Department of Justice, which feared that they would lose the ability to arbitrarily reject Freedom of Information Act requests if the bill passed. Read the rest

Federal courts resist transparency, but the Free Law Project fights back

In the age of Internet, discussions about the federal government and its functions are informed by and rely on our unprecedented access to federal documents. Anyone can freely view public records online, such as proposed Congressional legislation and presidential executive orders. Accessing public court documents, however, is a bit trickier. As Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2011, "no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch."

What America loses when the USDA nukes its taxpayer-funded records of animal cruelty

Immediately upon assuming office, the Trump administration directed the US Department of Agriculture to take down the extensive records of its publicly funded investigations of animal cruelty in America; now, Americans can only access their own data by paying for expensive, unweildy, and slow Freedom of Information Act requests to the USDA. Read the rest

Chris Christie vetoes unanimous bill that would make NJ cops disclose what they seize through asset forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture is the bizarre American practice of seizing peoples' property without charging its owner: instead the property is charged with being the ill-gotten gains of a crime, and if the owner doesn't pay their property's legal bills, the police get to keep or sell the property. Read the rest

Contribute to the Chelsea Manning Welcome Home Fund

Chelsea Manning's lawyer Chase Strangio has set up an official Chelsea Manning Welcome Home Fund. Please join those of us who have contributed to help with her living and healthcare expenses. As a reminder of what she's endured: Read the rest

Trump's FBI doubles down on hostility to transparency, switches to fax and snailmail for FOIA requests

The FBI has always been hostile to Freedom of Information Act requests: it habitually violates the law by allowing these requests to go more than 30 days without a response, and maintains a lab full of 1980s-vintage computers that it uses to (badly) fulfill public records request, so that it can reject requests on the basis that it lacks the technology to respond to them. But it's about to get a whole lot worse. Read the rest

Google quietly makes "optional" web DRM mandatory in Chrome

The World Wide Web Consortium's Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) is a DRM system for web video, being pushed by Netflix, movie studios, and a few broadcasters. It's been hugely controversial within the W3C and outside of it, but one argument that DRM defenders have made throughout the debate is that the DRM is optional, and if you don't like it, you don't have to use it. That's not true any more. Read the rest

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