Intelligence officials sue to end pre-publication government review of writings

The action was brought in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, against DNI Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, NSA Director Paul Nakasone, and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

List of thousands of criminal cops accidentally released under public records laws, now CA AG threatens 2 reporters with legal action for having a copy

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told two Berkeley-based reporters that it is against the law to even possess a copy of this never-before-publicly-released list of convicted cops.

How the payday loan industry laundered policy by paying academics to write papers that supported its positions

When Elizabeth Warren inaugurated the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of her prime targets was subprime/payday/predatory lenders; and the lenders' lobbyists went on an all-out blitz, eventually prevailing under Trump's CFPB boss Mick Mulvaney. Read the rest

Public records requests reveal the elaborate shell-company secrecy that Google uses when seeking subsidies for data-centers

It's not just Amazon and Apple that expect massive taxpayer subsidies in exchange for locating physical plant in your town: when Google builds a new data-center, it does so on condition of multimillion-dollar "incentives" from local governments -- but Google also demands extraordinary secrecy from local officials regarding these deals, secrecy so complete that city attorneys have instructed town councillors to refuse to answer questions about it during public meetings. Read the rest

Chuck Schumer's general counsel, once a Goldman Sachs lobbyist, won't disclose the names of 95% of his former clients

Mark Patterson is Chuck Schumer's general counsel; he used to be a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, and he had 20 important clients, 19 of whom he has declined to name on his financial disclosure statements. Read the rest

Chasing down that list of potential Predpol customers reveals dozens of cities that have secretly experimented with "predictive policing"

Last October, I published a list of cities that appeared to have contracted with Predpol, a "predictive policing" company, based on research provided to me by an anonymous source who used clever methods to uncover the customer list. Read the rest

In a huge win for open data, Congress passes the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary Government Data Act

In 2009, Obama signed an executive order requiring the administrative branch to embrace the broadest, most liberal approach to the Freedom of Information Act, reversing John Ashcroft's 2001 memo that instructed government agencies to turn over as little information to the public as possible. Read the rest

We don't know how much Village Roadshow paid to buy Australia's new censoring copyright law

Australia just passed into law one of the world's most censoring copyright law, which allows the country's media giants like Village Roadshow to use one-sided administrative process to get court orders to censor any website whose "primary effect" is infringement, then use those orders to force search engines to delist any site so blocked, and then recycle those orders to block for any site or service that "provides access" to a blocked site or service. Read the rest

Trump's FCC seems to have ended the practice of releasing its ISP speed-tests, leaving Americans in the dark about what they're paying for

When Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality (by deliberately ignoring comments from actual humans in favor of comments left by obvious bots), he said that removing regulation from telcos would boost investment, finally ending the US's status as the worst broadband nation in the world. Read the rest

Here's the secret details of 200 cities' license-plate tracking programs

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Muckrock teamed up to use the Freedom of Information Act to extract the details of 200 US cities' Automated License Plate Recognition camera programs (ALPR), and today they've released a dataset containing all the heretofore secret data on how these programs are administered and what is done with the data they collect. Read the rest

ICE and the DEA have secretly hidden cameras in some streetlights

Government procurement data reveals that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Agency have each spent tens of thousands of dollars on products from Houston's Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC, which specializes in fake streetlight housings designed to conceal surveillance cameras. Read the rest

Is this the full list of US cities that have bought or considered Predpol's predictive policing services?

Predpol (previously) is a "predictive policing" company that sells police forces predictive analytics tools that take in police data about crimes and arrests and spits out guesses about where the police should go to find future crimes. Read the rest

Your wireless carrier is definitely throttling video, but not because of network congestion (Verizon's the worst)

Northeastern University assistant computer science prof Dave Choffnes built an app called Wehe that monitors network usage and throttling; it has users in 161 countries and has been used to produce one of the most comprehensive looks at video throttling by wireless carriers. Read the rest

Trump's Interior Secretary is now blacking out nearly all details of his calendar

Ryan Zinke (previously) is one of Trump's most notoriously scandal-haunted cabinet members; as Secretary of the Interior he presided over the catastrophic failure of the federal government to intervene in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (he did, however, award a $300,000,000 grid-repair contract to a two-man shop from his hometown where his son had been given a cushy job). Read the rest

The platforms control our public discourse, and who they disconnect is arbitrary and capricious

Look, I'm as delighted as you are to see Alex Jones' ability to spread hatred curtailed -- because in a world where all the important speech takes place online, and where online speech is owned by four or five companies, being kicked off of Big Tech's services is likely to be an extinction-level event. Read the rest

Avowed "utopian anarchist" Elon Musk is also one of the top donors to the GOP "Protect the House" PAC

Elon Musk, an avowed utopian anarchist, is one of the top fifty donors to the Republican Protect the House PAC, having funneled $38,900 to support the group's mission of protecting Republican Congressional seats. Read the rest

Thanks to 2016's trade secret law and algorithmic justice, America's courts have become AI-Kafka nightmares

In 2014, the Alice decision made it much harder to patent software in the USA; in 2016, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, creating the first federal trade secrets statute: the result of these two developments is that software companies aggressively switched from patents to trade secrets as a means of controlling competition and limiting inspection and criticism of their products. Read the rest

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