Search the databases of Trump political appointees' resumes and discover their undisclosed conflicts of interest

Property of the People and Propublica used the Trumptown database of Trump's political appointees and the Freedom of Information Act to pull the appointees' resumes (chock full o' data that doesn't appear on their financial disclosure forms) and put them in a searchable database. Read the rest

Chicago police data reveals how dirty cops spread corruption like a disease

In 2009, after a successful public records lawsuit, the Invisible Institute received data on complaints against Chicago Police Department officers since 1988 -- the complaints often list multiple officers, and by tracing the social graph of dirty cops over time, The Intercept's Rob Arthur was able to show how corruption spread like a contagion, from senior officers to junior ones, teaching bad practices ranging from brutality to falsifying evidence to torture to racism to plotting to murder whistleblowing cops. Read the rest

How a civic hacker used open data to halve tickets at Chicago's most confusing parking spot

Matt Chapman used the Freedom of Information Act to get the City of Chicago's very mess parking ticket data; after enormous and heroic data normalization, Chapman was able to pinpoint one of the city's most confusing parking spots, between 1100-1166 N State St, which cycled between duty as a taxi-stand and a parking spot with a confusingly placed and semi-busted parking meter. Read the rest

English and Welsh local governments use "terrorism" as the excuse to block publication of commercial vacancies

Gavin Chait is an "economist, engineer, data scientist and author" who created a website called Pikhaya where UK entrepreneurs can get lists of vacant commercial properties, their advertised rents, and the history of the businesses that had previously been located in those spaces -- whether they thrived, grew and moved on, or went bust (maybe because they had a terrible location). Read the rest

Turning the NSA's vintage internal security posters into t-shirts

Techdirt is in the throes of a two-part revelation: 1. the US government's works are public domain and can be freely commercialized, and; 2. many of the weird things that spy agencies make can be turned into ironic, cool, and sometimes fun and/or beautiful objects of commerce. Read the rest

Judge to EPA: you are legally required to turn over Pruitt's documentary evidence for climate denial

Embattled EPA Director Scott Pruitt went on national TV to announce on behalf of the US government that "I would not agree [CO2 is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see... There’s a tremendous disagreement about the degree of the impact [of] human activity on the climate." Read the rest

Laramie County, Wyoming Sheriffs' department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

Every crappy thing in the world is beta-tested on people who have little or no power, perfected, and brought to the rest of us -- CCTV starts with prisoners, moves to mental institutions, then to schools, then to blue-collar workplaces, then airports, then white-collar workplaces, then everywhere. Read the rest

Vintage internal security posters, pried loose from the NSA's archives

Government Attic used the Freedom of Information Act to force the NSA to cough up its "old security posters from the 1950s and 1960s"; after two years' delay, the NSA finally delivered 139 pages' worth of gorgeous, weird, revealingly paranoid internal materials, produced by an incredibly prolific internal security office who constantly refreshed their poster designs (presumably to keep them from disappearing into the background), all funded with US public money and thus in the public domain for your remixing pleasure (a few dozen of my favorites below!). Read the rest

The FBI's mountain of uncrackable crimephones was nearly entirely imaginary

The FBI has been trying to ban working cryptography since the Clinton years, a losing battle whose stakes go up with each passing day as the number of devices that depend on working crypto to secure them and their users goes up and up and up. Read the rest

Nova Scotia abandons its attempt to destroy a teenager who stumbled on a wide-open directory of sensitive information

Last month, an unnamed 19-year-old Nova Scotian grew frustrated with the lack of a search interface for the province's public repository of responses to public records requests; he wanted to research the province's dispute with its public school teachers and didn't fancy manually clicking on thousands of links to documents to find the relevant ones, so he wrote a single line of code that downloaded all the public documents to his computer, from which he could search them with ease. Read the rest

Nova Scotia filled its public Freedom of Information Archive with citizens' private data, then arrested the teen who discovered it

A 19 year old in Nova Scotia wanted to learn more about the provincial teachers' dispute, so he filed some Freedom of Information requests; he wasn't satisfied with the response so he decided to dig through other documents the province had released under open records laws to look for more, but couldn't find a search tool that was adequate to the job. Read the rest

Trump Hotel employee guide: no swearing, no sexually suggestive gestures, and DO NOT hire your family!

The Daily Beast and Property of the People used the Freedom of Information Act to force the National Labor Relations Board to release the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas employee handbook, which was introduced into evidence during a 2015 lawsuit over union busting. Read the rest

FCC refuses public records request about Ajit Pai's monumentally unfunny "comedy" videos

In the runup to his execution of Net Neutrality, Trump FCC Chairbeast Ajit Pai released a video on The Daily Caller, a far-right site; as a work of comedy, it was every bit as lame as the sketch he performed for telcoms lobbyists in which he "joked" about being a shill for his former employer, Verion. Read the rest

"Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo": Game designers review the CIA's declassified tabletop training game

Douglas Palmer got wind of a classified CIA program to create board games to train spies, so he used a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to get copies of two of these games: the first is called "Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo" and the second (which the CIA revealed to a SXSW audience in 2017) is called "Collection Deck." Read the rest

EFF awards the Foilies to the government agencies with the worst transparency for 2018

The annual Foilie Awards are out; the Electronic Frontier Foundation hands out these sardonic "awards" to the government entities whose Freedom of Information Act responses were the most heel-dragging, kakfaesque, and pointless. Read the rest

Geek Squad's secret spying on behalf of the FBI went on for a decade and involved constant, ongoing collaboration

A 2017 prosecution of a California doctor charged with possessing child pornography revealed that the FBI had been tipped off by a Best Buy technician the doctor had paid to service his computer; the technician had searched his computer and then provided evidence to the FBI, sidestepping the need for the FBI to obtain a warrant. Read the rest

Motherboard files legal complaint against London police to force it to explain why an officer bought creepy, potential illegal stalkerware

Flexispy is the creepy stalkerware advertised to abusive spouses and exes that Motherboard's Joseph Cox has been relentlessly tracking; when he acquired a leaked trove of the company's files, he started to mine it to see who was buying the potentially illegal app. Read the rest

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