Several partners, including the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court in US vs. Jones. At issue in the case is whether the government can install or use a GPS device to track a person’s movements in his vehicle without a warrant under the Fourth Amendment. More information about the case, and links to all the briefs can be found on EPIC’s website here.
Last weekend the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), in association with the DC Labor Film Fest, presented the 3rd annual Whistleblower Film Series. The series is intended to showcase films that explore the valuable role of whistleblowers at this critical time in the effort to restore and modernize protections for federal government employees. This year’s series included a special discussion with whistleblowers Thomas Tamm and Thomas Drake moderated by POGO’s Danielle Brian, after a viewing of All the President’s Men. This year’s series also included a viewing of The Whistleblower; read an interview with the woman who inspired the movie on POGO’s website here.
OpenTheGovernment.org and several of our partners joined an effort coordinated by the Union of Concerned Scientists to support HR 3124, the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2011. As the letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee points out, the bill makes key reforms that will help make federal advisory committees more transparent and accountable. The letter also makes additional recommendations for changes in the law that would make it easier for the public to access federal advisory committee meetings. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed the bill last Tuesday; it has not yet been put on the schedule for a vote on the House floor.
Last week, the Administration released a new Executive Order (EO) on Structural Reforms to Improve the Security of Classified Networks and the Responsible Sharing and Safeguarding of Classified Information. The EO creates a Senior Information Sharing and Safeguarding Steering Committee, an Insider Threat Task Force, and the Executive Agent for Safeguarding Classified Information on Computer Networks to develop and implement information system security policies. The intent is to prevent future unauthorized disclosures of classified information, like the troves of national security material posted to WikiLeaks last year. As we have noted, the EO does recognize some of the concerns we and others in the openness community raised with the Administration: it directs agencies to fulfill the "twin goals" of responsibly securing and sharing classified information and of protecting privacy and civil liberties. In order for these protections to be "baked-in" to the system, however, the Administration needs to explicitly extend this responsibility to the newly created entities charged with developing the reforms. Read our full analysis of the EO here.
On Wednesday, October 19 from 10 a.m. to noon in Washington, DC, the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy (OIP) and the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) will host a roundtable discussion between FOIA requesters and agency FOIA personnel. The roundtable is one in a series of events co-hosted by OIP and OGIS to discuss requests for certain types of government records and encourage a free exchange of ideas and concerns. Wednesday’s meeting will focus on requests for contractor and other business-related records. The roundtable is open to the public, though pre-registration is required (due to limited seating). To register, please e-mail your name and phone number to OIP’s Training Officer, Bertina Adams at DOJ.OIP.FOIA@usdoj.gov.
The next roundtable will be held on January 24, 2012 and will focus on requests for records on third parties.