Advocates and Tech Groups Call for Surveillance Transparency – July 23, 2013 Newsletter

In This Issue:
News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. OpenTheGovernment Joins Advocates and Tech Groups in Call for Surveillance Transparency
II. Commitments in Civil Society National Action Plan Now Open for Endorsements

News from Coalition Partners & Others

EPIC Asks PCLOB to Uphold the Right to Know

EPIC published comments critiquing the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s (PCLOB) proposals to weaken the Freedom of Information Act and Sunshine Act. The board’s proposed regulations give members broad authorities to close meetings to the public. PCLOB’s proposed rules are available here.

Aftergood on the Dynamics of Government Secrecy

OTG Steering Committee member Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists examines the broad principles of classification and the internal patterns of secrecy in a paper published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. In the paper, “An Inquiry into the Dynamics of Government Secrecy,” Aftergood illustrates how broad secrecy principles and guidance result in a secrecy policy vulnerable to “extraneous factors, including bureaucratic self-interest and public controversy.” Read the paper here for more on the internal dynamics and suggestions for a better path forward.

National Security Archive Sheds Light on Migration

Migration Declassified, the recently launched project of the National Security Archive, will shine a greater light on security and law enforcement in the United States and Mexico by hosting recently declassified documents related to migration policy, border enforcement, and more.

TRAC Analysis Finds a Growing Backlog at ICE

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse's (TRAC) most recent analysis of FOIA processing at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) finds that ICE has stalled in its processing of older backlogged requests. ICE’s backlog had increased to 6,699 at the end of June 2013, up from 2, 903 in September 2012.

I. OpenTheGovernment Joins Advocates and Tech Groups in Call for Surveillance Transparency

Sixty-three organizations, including and many of our coalition partners and tech companies, joined the Center for Democracy and Technology to call for more transparency of government communications surveillance. The letter accompanied the launch of the reform campaign StopWatching.Us. Non-profit and tech groups large and small asked the federal government and Congress to allow companies to share information with the public about the requests they receive. For more about the campaign, see the Center for Democracy and Technology's announcement here.

Questions about the transparency aspects of the government's surveillance of communications? Check out our handy Primer outlining the pertinent issues and telling you where to go for more information.

II. Commitments in Civil Society National Action Plan Now Open for Endorsements

In our last newsletter we introduced you to our latest project designed to encourage the Administration to take bold steps to make the federal government more open and accountable: a Civil Society-drafted National Action Plan. We are working with our coalition partners and others to draft the kind of ambitious commitments we would like to see included in the next version of the government's Plan, and are making all of the ideas available for the public to comment on.

Since we last shared the site with you, several new proposals, including ideas to improve transparency of communications surveillance and federal spending, establish a Presidential Advisory Committee on Open Government, improve scientific integrity, protect whistleblowers, open government data, and much more have been added to the site.

This past week, we also added a new feature to the site that lets other organizations and members of the public "endorse" any of the ideas they agree should be included in the Administration's version of the plan. We hope you will take a few minutes to browse the site and add your name to the list of people and organizations that support the proposals.


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