Freedom of Information
Dept of Energy Wants to Reclassify Some Info as “Restricted Data”
The Department of Energy has asked Congress to amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow certain nuclear weapons information that has been removed from the “Restricted Data” classification category to be restored to that category.
Now There’s a Congressional Record App for That
“I am very excited that today marks the launch of the Congressional Record App presented by the Library of Congress, an initiative of the House leadership under the guidance of the Committee on House Administration. The goal of this new free app is straightforward – easily read the daily edition of the Congressional Record on your iPad (and maybe save a few trees in the process). Just like the Library of Congress does with THOMAS, we are pulling together data from our partners: the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, and the Government Printing Office.”
“Bills To Be Considered on the House Floor” Repository
“You can now access “Bills To Be Considered on the House Floor” – a new digital repository from the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. “Bills To Be Considered on the House Floor” provides access to any measures which may be considered on the floor in the coming week, including bills, resolutions, and amendments. The repository, launched January 13, 2012, in time for the 2nd session of the 112th Congress, is intended to expand upon and replace the legislative announcements made on the House Rules Committee’s website throughout 2011.”
Indiana Bills would put teeth in open record statute
“Public employees who intentionally circumvented public meeting and disclosure laws could be subject to fines under legislation reintroduced in the Generally Assembly. The bills would let a judge fine a person $100 for first offense and $500 for subsequent violations of the Open Door Law or Access to Public Records Act. The act requires meetings of public agencies to be open and public documents to be made available for copying or inspection except for specific exemptions spelled out in the law.”
House of Reps Sets Conference on Public Access to Legislative Info on Feb 2
“Today, the House of Representatives announced it will host a full-day conference on public access to legislative information on Thursday, February 2. This is a big deal. It will bring together the people who create and encode legislative materials and the people that use (and transform) that information. This announcement follows on the recent launch of a House transparency portal, which in of itself will change how the public makes use of legislative information. Entitled “Legislative Data and Transparency,” the conference will include discussion of how legislative information is created, how it is made available to the public, what the impact is of current levels of public access, what improved public access would look like from a technological perspective, and the benchmarks to determine and benefits that would come from a truly transparency Congress.”
Emanuel announces plan to reopen libraries on Mondays
“Chicago’s branch libraries will reopen on Mondays, thanks to a political end-run engineered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”
David Ferriero response to the Yes We Scan petition on the White House’s We the People site:
Digitizing Federal Public Records
“Thank you for signing a petition asking the Obama Administration to digitize all public records. The Obama Administration believes increasing access to our collections by digitizing our records is a great idea. Our most recent efforts to do this ourselves as part of our OpenGov initiative, include the Citizen Archivist project, a Wikipedian in Residence, Tag it Tuesdays, and Scanathons. We are also moving forward on implementing the President’s recent Memorandum on Managing Government Records, which focuses on the need to update policies and practices for the digital age. But all those things aren’t enough. Your petition, and the Yes We Scan effort broadly, calls for a national strategy, and even a Federal Scanning Commission, to figure out what it would take to digitize the holdings of many federal entities, from the Library of Congress to the Government Printing Office to the Smithsonian Institution.”
Could SOPA and PIPA interfere with State Dept.’s global Internet freedom agenda?
“Two Internet anti-piracy bills working their way through Congress that are heavily backed by the movie industry could have significant impacts on technology companies, a threat highlighted Wednesday by Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing and other sites that went offline for the day in protest. As a result, some reporters have characterized the standoff over the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act – SOPA and PIPA for short – as a fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. But at an event put on by The New Republic Wednesday, Alec Ross, the State Department’s senior advisor for innovation, pointed out that that this issue is bigger than California. If done wrong, anti-piracy legislation could restrict the rights of Internet users across the country – and put U.S. diplomats in a very awkward position.”
Inter-Parliamentary Union Condemns Government Investigation into Member of Iceland’s Parliament
“For more than a year, Icelandic Member of Parliament and EFF client Birgitta Jonsdottir—along with security researchers Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp—has fought the efforts of the Department of Justice to force Twitter to give up information about their online activities. In December of 2010, the government obtained a court order requiring, among other things, Twitter to hand over their IP addresses at login (which can be used to trace their locations) along with a long list of other information. EFF, with the ACLU and a host of private attorneys, fought back, but the U.S. courts rebuffed our efforts. The courts’ analysis is troubling on many grounds. One such ground is the fact that the courts determined Ms. Jonsdottir’s information could be seized despite the fact that Ms. Jonsdottir, whose actions on behalf of Wikileaks all seem to have occurred in Iceland, appears to have complete immunity against this investigation under Icelandic law as a member of the Icelandic Parliament. While Ms. Jonsdottir’s specific situation is unique, many non-U.S. users of Twitter are rightfully unnerved. At least according to the magistrate and judge in Virginia, all of a users’ communications records can be subject to review by the U.S. government without a warrant becuase the users chose to use an online “cloud” service that stores data about them in the U.S. But even as the U.S. courts have refused to see the dangerous implications of their rulings, others have appropriately raised alarm. In a little noticed story last fall, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which represents members of parliament from 157 countries, issued a stunning rebuke to the United States and the Department of Justice over its investigation into Ms. Jonsdottir.”
Intellectual Property Issues
US Supreme Court Rules On Golan v. Holder, Key Public Domain Case
“The United States Supreme Court today ruled on one of the top intellectual property legal cases expected this year. The case questioned whether the US Congress acted constitutionally when it restored copyright to millions of foreign works that had been in the public domain in the US. And it affirmed Congress’ actions, allowing the US to avoid questions of compliance with its international obligations.”
Reid postpones vote on Internet piracy bill
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has indefinitely postponed next week’s vote on the controversial Protect IP Act “in light of recent events,” he announced on Friday. The move is a resounding victory for online activists, who staged an unprecedented protest against the anti-piracy measure on Wednesday. . . Just minutes after Reid’s announcement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said he would shelve the House’s version of the legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).”
China says government to be more open
“China will be more open about the often secretive workings of the government and ruling Communist Party in the coming year, although strict controls over the Internet would remain in place, a senior propaganda official said Wednesday. Officials will expand the use of government spokespeople, boost the overseas reach of state media, and further promote the use of microblogs to interact with the public, Wang Chen told reporters.”
From the UK – Digital standards agreed for public libraries
“The heads of more than 4,000 public libraries across the UK have agreed to national digital standards, which include providing free internet access in every library, and the ability to join a library and renew and reserve items online. The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) said that National Digital Promise will set the minimum standard for online services provided by public libraries in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
Irish National library gets digital
“For 135 years, saving paper has been its focus. But with so much of the world’s written content and images increasingly in digital form, the National Library of Ireland has embarked on a major project to digitise its collections and give equal weight to archiving new material that comes in bits and bytes. An ambitious four programmes of work were launched during the past year, approaching the digitisation task from a range of directions.”
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The Intersect Alert is a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association.