A company that makes spy-tech for cops threatened to sue Vice for publishing its sales literature (because Iran!)

Special Services Group makes surveillance crapgadgets for cops and spies: cameras and mics hidden in tombstones, vacuum cleaners, children's car-seats, and other everyday items. Muckrock's Beryl Lipton used a Freedom of Information Act request to get a copy of "Black Book," SSG's massive sales brochure out of the Irvine police department, with minimal redactions. Read the rest

Why is the FBI protecting Superman's civilian identity?

In last week's Superman #18, the eponymous hero held a press conference to reveal his identity to the public. Comic book continuity is ever-shifting, of course, and the connection between Superman and Clark Kent has been known or exposed by other people before, just as the genie will someday be placed back in the bottle once again. In this particular context, Superman was inspired to come clean after learning about the lies and deceptions of his birth father, Jor-El (who also used to be dead, but now is not, because comics). This revelation also comes on the heels of an epic crossover that shattered the acronym-happy intelligence community of the DC Universe with some other truths and justices.

This curiously came on the heels of the Inspector General's report on the origins of the FBI investigation into the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. The results of this investigation were as much of a political Rorschach test as anything is these days. But one thing it did reinforce was the FBI's overconfidence in its own self-righteous status quo enforcement, for better and for worse.

While there was (unsurprisingly, IMHO) no political bias found in the FBI's motives, the IG report did note a handful of oversights and omissions that had been along the way—a detail that the President's stalwart defenders have eagerly jumped on. For anyone who's ever paid attention to anything the FBI has ever done, however, this all came across as the same standard over-zealous stuff the organization's also done—again, for better, and for worse. Read the rest

Searchable, group-annotatable version of the Mueller Report

Muckrock's JPat Brown (previously) writes, "Wanted to let you know we've got a text-searchable version of the Mueller Report loaded into our crowdsourcing tool that might be of interest to Boing Boing readers." Read the rest

The strangest FOIA redactions (and FOIA releases) MuckRock has seen over the years

[Editor's note: We're happy to help our public record ninja friends at Muckrock celebrate Sunshine Week with this tribute to the censor's heavy hand -Cory]

After nine years and over 60,000 requests, MuckRock has been witness to some pretty impressive efforts to keep public information from the public. In the spirit of Sunshine Week, we’ve compiled some of the weirdest, wildest, and downright hilarious redactions we’ve received. 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

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

Police now routinely crack and extract all phone data from arrestees

Muckrock filed Freedom of Information Requests with multiple US police forces to find out how they were using "mobile phone forensic extraction devices" -- commercial devices that suck all the data out of peoples' phones and make it available for offline browsing. Read the rest

EFF fights order to remove public records documents detailing Seattle's smart-meters

Earlier this week, I wrote about the legal threats from Landis and Gyr against the Freedom of Information service Muckrock, which had received documents from the City of Seattle detailing the workings of Landis and Gyr's smart-meter system, which Seattle has purchased from them at public expense. Read the rest

Smart-meter vendor says that if we know how their system works, the terrorists will win

Phil Mocek filed a public records request to find out how Seattle's new smart meters -- supplied by Landis and Gyr -- will work. As Mocek writes, these meters are based on "unspecified and unverifiable sensors that monitor activity inside of private property and can communicate collected information in real-time to unspecified machines in remote locations, the workings of which are obscured from ratepayers, with interfaces used by [the city] that require specialized equipment and are thus completely unavailable to ratepayers for personal use or monitoring and verification of information communicated, is already shrouded in secrecy and seemingly proceeding despite repeated voicing of public concern and complete lack of public justification of expense." Read the rest

What military gear did the Pentagon give to America's cops?

Michael from Muckrock says, "After months of legal wrangling, MuckRock has finally received the complete list of military gear given to local police departments under the Pentagon's 1033 program, including bomb disposal robots, infrared gun sights, small aircraft and rocket launchers." Read the rest