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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

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The Sunlight Foundation notes that when an agency like the Department of State publishes a draft of its Open Government plan, the public should not have to provide the agency with personal information in order to read the draft and provide feedback.

Sunlight is providing a a PDF of the State Department’s open government plan so you will not have to agree to the terms of service or privacy policy to read it.

Read about what is going on here: State Department requests feedback on draft 2016 Open Government Plan

Get the Department of State plan here.

List of articles about FBI vs Apple

Lots of News and Essays about the FBI vs. Apple, by Bruce Schneier, Crypto-Gram (March 15, 2016).

Bruce says, “This isn’t the most comprehensive list of links, but it’s a good one. They’re more or less in chronological order.” Indeed, it is a very good list for catching up on this important issue, or filling in the gaps, or understanding the issues. While browsing the list, see also Bruce’s article in the same issue of Crypto-Gram: The FBI vs Apple: Decrypting an iPhone

What the FBI wants to do would make us less secure, even though it’s in the name of keeping us safe from harm. Powerful governments, democratic and totalitarian alike, want access to user data for both law enforcement and social control. We cannot build a backdoor that only works for a particular type of government, or only in the presence of a particular court order.

Either everyone gets security or no one does. Either everyone gets access or no one does. The current case is about a single iPhone 5c, but the precedent it sets will apply to all smartphones, computers, cars and everything the Internet of Things promises. The danger is that the court’s demands will pave the way to the FBI forcing Apple and others to reduce the security levels of their smart phones and computers, as well as the security of cars, medical devices, homes, and everything else that will soon be computerized. The FBI may be targeting the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, but its actions imperil us all.

CISA is back. Act now! #StopCISA

A secretly negotiated version of The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) has been slipped into the 2000+ page “omnibus” spending bill that Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown. That massive bill will be voted on this THURSDAY!

ALA and many others have been fighting this bill for years.

The bill encourages private sector companies to share personal information of individuals with the government by cuting corners on privacy, oversight and legal accountability. It provides law enforcement agencies a way to get personal information without having to go to court to get a warrant. The bill waives privacy and wiretapping laws to encourage companies to monitor their own networks and excuses companies from liability for violating privacy laws except in the most extreme cases.

Senator Ron Wyden, one of the only people in Congress willing to stand up against the bill, says, “it’s a surveillance bill by another name.”

Because the vote is due THURSDAY, ALA recommends that you send a tweet to your Member of Congress asking him or her to tell Speaker Ryan that middle-of-the-night deals that give the NSA new surveillance tools have no place in the omnibus budget bill, and that it’s not too late for the Speaker to #StopCISA .

Only 15% of Congressional Websites Are Ready for HTTPS

A Sunlight Foundation analysis found only 15 percent of congressional websites are ready for HTTPS.

  • Sunlight analysis reveals only 15 percent of congressional websites are HTTPS ready by Tim Ball, Sunlight Foundation (May 26, 2015).

    In this article we will describe the methodology of the survey and present the survey results. We will also offer a brief analysis of what can be done to address the situation. It is important to note that this evaluation should not and is not a reflection on individual members of Congress or their websites, but is reflective of the entities that host those websites. We know this because across the 652 websites surveyed they were only served from 24 IP addresses.

    Sunlight is interested in seeing Congress take sound steps to properly secure its — and the American people’s — information. This author, in particular, hopes that lawmakers will read this analysis and ponder some of the questions that have been raised, potentially making changes to improve their security practices. To that end, we’ll run these tests again periodically to identify any changes that they may or may not make. See you all very soon!

Appeals court ruling on the NSA collection of phone records

UPDATED (5/8/2015) Concurring opinion added. News of the recent ruling by a federal appeals court that the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of Americans’ phone records violates the Patriot Act is widely available. Below are the links to a couple of good accounts of the ruling and the ruling itself.

  • N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Is Illegal, Appeals Court Rules, By CHARLIE SAVAGE and JONATHAN WEISMAN, New York Times (May 7, 2015).
  • NSA program on phone records is illegal, court rules By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post (May 7, 2015).
  • Case 14-42, Document 168-1, 05/07/2015, 1503586 United States Court Of Appeals For The Second Circuit August Term, 2014 (Argued: September 2, 2014 Decided: May 7, 2015) Docket No. 14‐42‐cv American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Plaintiffs‐Appellants, v. JAMES R. CLAPPER, in his official capacity as Director of National Intelligence, MICHAEL S. ROGERS, in his official capacity as Director of the National Security Agency and Chief of the Central Security Service, ASHTON B. CARTER, in his official capacity as Secretary of Defense, LORETTA E. LYNCH, in her official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, and JAMES B. COMEY, in his official capacity as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Defendants‐Appellees. SACK and LYNCH , Circuit Judges, and BRODERICK, District Judge.
  • SACK, Circuit Judge, concurring.