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Roundup of New Resources and Other Government Info News (12 Items)

Greetings from DC.

Here’s a roundup with a bunch of recent postings from our INFOdocket site containing news and new resources of possible interest to the FGI community.

This is a small sample of what we post each day. Most of the following items were shared in the past week or so. We are also available on Twitter.

1. New From U.S. Census: 2008-2010 ACS 3-Year Estimates

2. Article: “Patriot Act Turns 10, With No Signs of Retirement” + Patriot Act Infographic (Facts and Stats)

3. State Library of Tennessee Partners With Ancestry.com, Database Includes Millions of Images and Names

4. New Report: The State of World Population 2011 (World Population Tops 7 Billion, via UNPA)

5. New from U.S. Census: American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States Wall Map

6. “A 5th Anniversary For the Forest Service National Library Celebrates 100 Years of History”

7. U.S. Census: USA Counties (New Stats)

8 New: Director of U.S. Copyright Office Announces Priorities, Special Projects for Next Two Years

9. Register of Copyrights Names Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs

10. Archivist of the United States on Digital Public Library of America Plenary

11. Legal Information: Cameras in Court Pilot Project Now Has 70 Videos Online

12. Campaign Finance: OpenSecrets.org Unveils New Interactive Features To Monitor 2012 Presidential Money Race

13. EPA: Office of Pesticide Programs Launches Online Searchable Database of Inert Ingredients Approved for Use in Pesticides

14. New From the C-SPAN Video Library: MP3 Audio Files Available for All Programs

We hope you find these resources useful. We hope you stop by or follow.

Direct to INFOdocket
INFOdocket on Twitter

gary price

NY Times Sues Government To Reveal ‘Secret’ Patriot Act Interpretation

Newspaper sues government to reveal ‘secret’ Patriot Act interpretation, By Zack Whittaker, ZDNet (October 12, 2011).

The New York Times is suing the U.S. government for refusing to divulge how its law enforcement interprets the Patriot Act.

After a series of Freedom of Information requests were declined to reveal the classified interpretation of the Patriot Act — a description that Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado) described as “deeply disturbing” — the newspaper sought to battle it out in the courts.

Some months ago, it was found that the Patriot Act was being interpreted by government departments in a way to aid their ongoing investigations, leading to calls that there was a “classified” element to the counter-terrorism law.

Privacy then and now: Some history of the “Patriot” Act

Declan McCullagh describes how the pre-2001 “Enhancement of Privacy and Public Safety in Cyberspace Act,” which was unacceptable to Congress, morphed into the “Combating Terrorism Act of 2001” and then into the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001,” which was rushed through Congress and passed without giving members time time to read the changes that had been incorporated in it.

  • How 9/11 attacks reshaped U.S. privacy debate, by Declan McCullagh, cnet, (September 9, 2011).

    After the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, however, the sentiment in political circles quickly shifted from protecting electronic privacy to facilitating government surveillance. The privacy bill approved by the committee by such a lopsided margin disappeared.

    …”Perhaps the biggest systemic change in the way the government conducts investigations since 9/11 is the transition from targeted surveillance–where the government picks a target and spies on that person–to untargeted wholesale surveillance, where masses of people are surveilled,” says Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “And then the government decides who it wants to focus on.”

McCullagh suggests that “the political pendulum appear[s] to be swinging back to favor privacy. It’s being driven by concerns over mobile device tracking, government access to data, airport body scanners–and the Patriot Act itself” but that “the FBI and other police agencies aren’t exactly eager to relinquish their expanded authority.”

A new poll reports mixed public opinion.

  • Poll: OK to trade some freedoms to fight terrorism, By Jennifer Agiesta, Associated Press (Sept 6, 2011).

    Ten years after the 9/11 attacks led to amped-up government surveillance efforts, two-thirds of Americans say it’s fitting to sacrifice some privacy and freedoms in the fight against terrorism, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

    …A slim majority — 54 percent — say that if they had to choose between preserving their rights and freedoms and protecting people from terrorists, they’d come down on the side of civil liberties. The public is particularly protective of the privacy of U.S. citizens, voicing sharp opposition to government surveillance of Americans’ emails and phone calls.

The Secret Patriot Act

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says that the government applies a broad legal interpretation of certain provisions of the “P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act” and has classified that interpretation so that it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged.

  • There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says, By Spencer Ackerman, Wired (May 25, 2011).

    Wyden says he “can’t answer” any specific questions about how the government thinks it can use the Patriot Act. That would risk revealing classified information — something Wyden considers an abuse of government secrecy. He believes the techniques themselves should stay secret, but the rationale for using their legal use under Patriot ought to be disclosed.

  • The Secret PATRIOT Act and the End of Limited Government in America, by E.D. Kain, Forbes (May 26, 2011).

    Apologists for the PATRIOT Act have claimed that the innocent have nothing to fear from the government’s broadened powers.

At isssue is the so-called “business-records provision” of the Act (Section 215) which empowers the FBI to get businesses, including libraries, to turn over records it deems relevant to a security investigation.

Sen. Wyden Decries “Secret Law” on PATRIOT Act, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (May 25th, 2011)

“We can have honest and legitimate disagreements about exactly how broad intelligence collection authorities ought to be, and members of the public do not expect to know all of the details about how those authorities are used,” Sen. Wyden said. “But I hope each Senator would agree that the law itself should not be kept secret and that the government should always be open and honest with the American people about what the law means.”

But the Senate moved toward cloture on reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act provisions and the Wyden amendment, which was co-sponsored by several Senate colleagues, was not permitted to be offered or to be voted upon.

Lunchtime listen: Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?

I found this NPR story this morning very interesting. The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case that pits an individual’s right of free speech and association against USAPA. The case is being brought by the nonprofit Humanitarian Law Project. Too bad the briefs for this case aren’t publicly available yet (at least not on FindLaw 🙁 ). This would be a slam dunk for the Humanitarian Law Project if their name was followed by “LLC.”