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Time to End the Senate's NDAA Secrecy

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $585 billion in Pentagon spending. The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) keeps the public almost entirely in the dark on this mammoth authorization bill. Last year, the text of the bill considered by the committee was not made available publicly and the markup was closed to the public. In contrast, the House Armed Services Committee has held an open markup for years.

34 Groups Oppose "Protecting Cyber Networks Act"

The Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) would undermine government transparency and increase intelligence agencies’ access to the public’s sensitive personal information, 34 openness and civil liberties groups said in a letter to members of the House of Representatives. The PCNA would categorically exempt government-provided information from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The legislation also authorizes agencies to use cyber threat information in Espionage Act cases, and leaving open the possibility that “cyber threat” information could be used to investigate whistleblowers.

OpenTheGovernment.org and Allies Press for Meaningful Surveillance Reform

Earlier today, OpenTheGovernment.org joined with a large coalition of civil society groups and trade associations, along with tech companies, in sending a letter to Congress that underscores the essential elements of any surveillance reform legislation. The letter, signed by over forty groups, emphasizes that transparency is an essential part of any meaningful surveillance reform bill--and that we oppose reauthorization of section 215 of the PATRIOT Act without real reform:

Sunshine Week: The Administration Should Take These 4 Steps

Sunshine Week is often commemorated with reports, events, and articles from the open government community and government alike. This year, 23 groups call on the Obama Administration to go further and take 4 concrete steps to improve government openness and accountability.

Groups to SSCI: CISA Undermines Transparency

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's (SSCI) draft cybersecurity legislation increases surveillance and undermines transparency, according 11 open government and civil liberties groups. The groups joined OpenTheGovernment.org in a letter to SSCI and urged the committee to reject the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) in its entirety. The draft legislation is overbroad and duplicative, undermines whistleblower protections and adds an unnecessary exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Read the letter in full here.

47 Groups Support 114th Congress' Steps to Reform FOIA

Forty-seven groups thanked Senators Cornyn and Leahy and Representatives Issa and Cummings for their newly-introduced legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA Overisght and Implementation Act (H.R. 653) and the FOIA Improvement Act (S. 337) include critical reforms that will help strengthen the public's ability to hold its government accountable. Read the letter here. For more analysis, visit the Sunlight Foundation and the National Security Archive.

Groups to President Obama: Stop Ignoring the Torture Report

On January 28, OpenTheGovernment.org and 8 other groups wrote to President Obama, asking his administration to stop ignoring the nearly 7000-page torture report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and reject Senator Richard Burr’s unprecedented request for the report’s return. The letter states in part:

Groups Urge President Obama to Commit to Legislative FOIA Reforms

On October 23, fifty organizations joined an effort headed by Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW) to ask the President to publicly go on record in support of legislative reforms to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As the letter points out, these reforms -- all of which are included in the bipartisan FOIA Improvement Act currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee -- are critical for achieving the unprecedented levels of openness promised by the President on his first day in office.

Groups Urge Greater Transparency in Government Watchlisting

The government’s loose watchlisting standards, revealed this summer, label thousands of people as suspected terrorists based on secret evidence. Innocent members of the public have no real process to challenge their listing. The standards are so broad that “individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists.”

45 Groups: USA Freedom Act a First Step for Surveillance Reform

OpenTheGovernment.org and dozens of civil society organizations joined the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) in a letter to members of Congress urging the passage of the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685) and outlining necessary reforms that go beyond the current legislation. Among other reforms, the bill would mandate the disclosure of "significant" FISA Court decisions, and allow disclosure about surveillance orders from public and private sectors.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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