Policy and News Updates for February 22, 2011

News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. Sunshine Week 2011 Webcast Update
II. PATRIOT Act Short-term Extension Passes Congress


In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. Sunshine Week 2011 Webcast Update

II. PATRIOT Act Short-term Extension Passes Congress

News from Coalition Partners & Others

 NFOIC Announces 2011 FOI Summit to Begin March 20 in Providence, RI

 The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) announced that the 2011 FOI Summit will be held on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21 at the Providence Biltmore in Providence, Rhode Island. The conference brings together access advocates from all over the country to share ideas, highlight successes, and head off the latest tricks in the secrecy trade. Learn more about this year’s event here.

  Center for Responsive Politics Makes Supreme Court Justices’ Personal Financial Disclosures Available

 The Center for Responsive Politics – OpenSectrets.org – has made Supreme Court Justices’ personal financial disclosures available on their personal financial disclosure database. Like members of Congress, justices serving on the highest court in the land are required by law to annually disclose information about their personal investments, making it easier for the public to find information about potential conflicts of interest judges may have in cases that come before them.

  CREW Makes House Oversight and Gov Reform Committee Docs on Regulations Searchable

 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has released searchable versions of the almost 2,000 pages of information Representative Issa (R-CA), Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, collected as part of his investigation into the regulatory system. The pages are copies of letters from businesses, trade organizations, and private citizens to Representative Issa. The documents were posted on Representative Issa’s website as one large pdf in response to several calls for public disclosure from public interest organizations, including CREW. Read CREW’s press release here.

  EFF Reveals Docs Detailing FBI’s Plan to Expand Federal Surveillance Laws

 The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), obtained several documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) detailing an initiative to increase the FBI’s authority in response to problems the FBI says it’s having implementing wiretap and pen register/trap and trace orders on new communications technologies. Learn more here.

 I. Sunshine Week 2011 Webcast Update

OpenTheGovernment.org’s Sunshine Week 2011 Webcast, " The Road Forward on Open Government," will be broadcast from noon to 1:30 pm (eastern) from the Center for American Progress. During the event, panelists from inside and outside government will discuss how the Obama Administration’s openness initiatives are being put into practice — from both a policy and a technical standpoint — and what more we can and should expect the Administration to do. Several great panelists, including David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Gary Bass, Executive Director of OMB Watch; Jennifer LaFleur, Director of Computer-Assisted Reporting at ProPublica; Tom Lee, Director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation; and Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics have been confirmed.

Sign up now on the facebook event page. We’ll be updating everyone who signs up on new confirmed speakers and letting them know when registration to attend the live event is open. We’ll also take questions for our panelists through the page.

Interested in watching the event with a group, but not in DC? We can help you set up a local viewing party! For information on how to set up a host site, email Amy Bennett or call us at 202-332-6736.

 II. PATRIOT Act Short-term Extension Passes Congress

After a brief revolt by the House, last week Congress approved a thirty day extension of three controversial expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act dealing with roving wiretaps, "lone wolf" terrorism suspects and the government’s ability to seize "any tangible items" in the course of surveillance. The House’s first effort to pass a longer extension failed when House leadership put the bill on the suspension calendar: new Tea Party members joined with liberal Democrats to vote against the bill, denying Leadership the two-thirds vote needed to pass bills under suspension of the rules. House leadership brought up and passed the same bill early last week under normal order, meaning the bill only needed a simple majority to pass.

Senate leadership rejected the long-term extension, opting instead to extend the provisions for only ninety days. The Senate plans to use the ninety days to investigate whether any additional protections are needed to stop authorities from abusing these powers. The House agreed to the Senate’s short-term extension and sent the bill to the President for signature.

 

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