Town Hall on Foreign Aid Addresses Government Transparency Shortfalls – September 10, 2015 Newsletter

– Don’t Miss from OTG (more)
– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Coalition Partner Events (more)
– OTG holds Open Government Town Hall on Foreign Aid and Security Assistance Transparency (more)

Don’t miss from OTG:
Patrice McDermott and Jesse Franzblau make the case for transparency in TPP negotiations.

Updates from Coalition Partners & Others:

Electronic Frontier Foundation Highlights Government Secrecy on Software Weaknesses

Through the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP), the government decides whether or not to withhold information on software vulnerabilities from developers and the public, largely for intelligence purposes. Because these weaknesses are often found in software with widespread public use, EFF filed a FOIA lawsuit last year to obtain information on the policy. After a year of litigation, the NSA released the VEP document to EFF last week, and despite significant redactions, it provides important information on the decision process.

Government Accountability Project Works to Protect Whistleblowers at Annual Summit

This summer, GAP was a part of the 2015 Whistleblowers Summit for Civil and Human Rights, where civil society, whistleblowers, members of Congress, and others met to discuss the challenges surrounding reporting government waste and abuse. GAP experts participated in panels discussing current legislative campaigns and Constitutional rights, and co-hosted a whistleblower awards ceremony with the Project on Government Oversight.

Court Revives Zions Bank Fraud Case

In a move that reaffirms the work of U.S. PIRG and its allies, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision denying victims from filing a class action suit against Zions Bank. Like other banks that have largely escaped consequences, Zions Bank had enabled the defrauding of patrons by internet scams. The decision to allow citizens class action status is a crucial step in strengthening the voice of consumers.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, AP Sue FBI over Journalism Sting

RCFP and the Associated Press are suing the FBI to obtain documents regarding the agency’s impersonation of a journalist in 2007. The FBI operation involved impersonating the AP and using a fake story to gain access to a criminal suspect’s computer. RCFP and the AP requested documents on this operation and any others like it, but so far none have been released.

League of Women Voters’ New Executive Director named

Wylecia Wiggs Harris is the new Executive Director of the League of Women Voters. She comes to LWV after 11 years of serving the American Nurses Association Enterprise in various roles. On her new role, Dr. Harris commented, “This position with the League of Women Voters means a great deal to me…The League’s efforts to engage all voters has always been professionally inspiring to my work.” We join the openness community in thanking Nancy Tate for her distinguished service and in welcoming Dr. Harris.

Coalition Partner Events:

National Rural Assembly Center for Rural Strategies, September 8-10

Transparency Camp 2015 Sunlight Foundation, September 11-12

Constitution Day 2015 The Constitution Project, September 17

Media Workshop New Jersey Work Environment Council, September 18

10th Annual Madison and Andersen Awards Breakfast Washington Coalition for Open Government, September 18

Sunshine Seminars Florida First Amendment Foundation, September-December

2015 FOI Summit National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 9-10

New England First Amendment Institute 2015 New England First Amendment Coalition, October 18-20 (Deadline to register is September 11)

OTG holds Open Government Town Hall on Foreign Aid and Security Assistance Transparency

OTG held a community Town Hall event yesterday featuring speakers with years of experience promoting public access to information on U.S. security and development aid. Our presenters – Abigail Poe Akre (Director of the Security Assistance Monitor, Center for International Policy), Catalina Reyes (Senior Advocacy Associate, Publish What You Fund), and Laia Griñó (Senior Manager of Transparency, Accountability and Results, InterAction) – discussed their ongoing research and advocacy efforts, the information on aid the government keeps hidden from public view, and why this information is critical for the public to hold government accountable. Read more here.


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