Groups Respond to Cybersecurity Bill – July 22, 2014 Newsletter

-Brief Updates on Coalition Partners and Others (more)

-Groups Break Down how the FOIA Improvement Act Reins in the Use of Exemption 5 (more)

-OTG Responds to Cybersecurity Bill in the Washington Post (more)

News from Coalition Partners and Others

Partners Push SEC to Clarify Whistleblower Protections

More than fifty groups, including, joined the Government Accountability Project in a letter to Mary Jo White, Chair of the Security and Exchange Commission expressing concern about retaliatory conduct against corporate whistleblowers. The groups recommend the SEC clarify protections for whistleblowers through rule-making, hold public hearings around the country, and form an Advisory Committee on Whistleblower Reporting and Protection. Learn more about the recommendations here

First Amendment Foundation Fights for Access to Redistricting Records

The First Amendment Foundation (FAF) and several news organizations are seeking access to sealed records used to invalidate redistricting maps in two Florida districts. The court proceeding that tossed out the new maps was closed to the press and public. The groups argue that the process of redistricting should be open to the public.

Join the Center for Effective Government’s Open Government Team

The Center for Effective Government is looking for a Policy Analyst, who will work to improve the Freedom of Information Act, increase transparency of government spending, and expand disclosure of government data. See the job description here

Groups Break Down how the FOIA Improvement Act Reins in the Use of Exemption 5

Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act has been used to withhold a Presidential Policy Directive instituting transparency, Federal Election Commission guidance on the use of the exemption, a list of unclassified opinions created by the Office of Legal Counsel, and much more. Agencies’ use of Exemption 5 has cut off access to countless records that should be released in the public interest. The bipartisan FOIA Improvement Act, S. 2520, would rein in an exemption that has been stretched to keep anything that is not a final version of a document out of the public eye. Learn more about how S. 2520 amends Exemption 5 with this fact sheet created in partnership with the National Security Archive and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

OTG Responds to Cybersecurity Bill in the Washington Post

On July 20th, the Washington Post published Executive Director Patrice McDermott’s letter to the editor, responding to a July 13th Post editorial. The editorial urged Congress to address privacy concerns in the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) and pass cybersecurity legislation. The editorial board failed to note severe flaws in CISA that 30 groups highlighted in a letter to the President shortly after the closed markup by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Dr. McDermott noted that the bill presents a threat to journalists and whistleblowers, as it authorizes the government to use the information shared with the government in investigations and prosecutions unrelated to cybersecurity. CISA also creates, for the first time in decades, a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act, which could prevent the public from learning both about private companies’ failure to protect their privacy and how the government uses the information it receives.

Dr. McDermott’s bottom line: “The Senate should pass cybersecurity legislation — but not this bill.” Read the letter here.

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