Top 10 donors make up a third of donations to super PACs
Contrary to expectations, the much-criticized court decisions that gave us "super PACs" have not led to a tsunami of contributions flowing from the treasuries of Fortune 500 corporations – at least not yet anyway.
What the Citizens United decision and a lower court ruling have done is make household names out of a bunch of relatively unknown, very wealthy conservatives. Of the top 10 donors to super PACs so far in the 2012 election cycle, seven are individuals – not corporations – and four of those individuals are billionaires.
Open Government Plans 2.0: Some Agencies Make Strides, Others Just Go Through the Motions
On April 9, federal agencies across the government released updates of their Open Government Plans, a key component of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. With delegates from 53 countries converging last week in Brazil for the first annual meeting of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP), now is a good time to take stock of the renewed commitments in the updated plans and evaluate the government’s progress on the road to implementation. Overall, the results have been mixed.
CA Legislators Allow Wireless Industry to Continue "Working Day and Night" Selling You Out in Secret
EFF, along with the ACLU of Northern California, is a sponsor of the California Location Privacy Act of 2012 (SB 1434), a bill that would require California law enforcement officers and agencies to seek a search warrant before obtaining electronic location information. Yesterday, the bill passed through the California Senate Committee on Public Safety and is now on its way to the full Senate for consideration. But when it gets there, it will be missing a major, important piece of its text: its reporting requirement.
Its certainly no surprise that there’s opposition whenever a bill proposes making it harder for law enforcement to get information. But in the case of SB 1434, the opposition came from a surprising place: the wireless industry.
DATA Act Passes House, Moves on to Senate
Today, the House passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act (H.R. 2146), by a voice vote with strong bipartisan support. The bill to strengthen the transparency of federal government spending was sponsored by Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and 13 other representatives.
OMB Watch released a statement applauding the DATA Act’s passage.
Harvard Releases Metadata Into Public Domain
Harvard is making more than 12 million catalog records from its 73 libraries publicly available under a Creative Commons public domain license, the university announced today.
The records can be bulk downloaded from Harvard in the standard MARC21 format, and are available for programmatic access by software applications via API at the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).
Freedom of Information
Govt Appeals Court-Ordered Release of Classified Document
Government attorneys said yesterday that they would appeal an extraordinary judicial ruling that required the release of a classified document in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The document in question is a one-page position paper produced by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) concerning the U.S. negotiating position in free trade negotiations. It was classified Confidential and was not supposed to be disclosed before 2013.
Lt. Col. Danny Davis, Camp Lejeune Documentary and Other Whistleblowers Honored at Ridenhour Awards
Eileen Foster, a former senior executive for the national’s largest mortgage provider, Countrywide Financial, didn’t plan on getting labeled a whistleblower. She was hired to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by company employees. But when she did her job and revealed large-scale fraud within the company—the kind that led to the 2008 financial crash—she was fired for telling the truth.
Foster was one of the truth-tellers honored yesterday at the 9th annual Ridenhour Prizes. The ceremony recognizes those who champion the truth and uphold the spirit of Ron Ridenhour, the former U.S. Army helicopter gunner who exposed the My Lai Massacre based on accounts he had heard from fellow soldiers during the Vietnam War.
The Internet will be a fad with little value
He thought the Internet had no future. Merely a fad. A passing fancy.
MPR News reporter Curtis Gilbert recently stumbled upon a gem from the MPR archives, a 1995 interview with Stoll by MPR host Paula Schroeder.
"STOLL: I’d say it’s not that important. I think it’s grossly oversold and within two or three years people will shrug and say, ‘"Uh yep, it was a fad of the early 90′s and now, oh yeah, it still exists but hey, I’ve got a life to lead and work to do. I don’t have time to waste online."’
Mobile Payments Can Expose More Consumer Data and Weaken Privacy Laws
Get ready for mobile payments to change how we make in-store purchases and how companies collect information about us. Nearly all the major smartphone manufacturers, Internet service providers (ISPs), credit card issuers, and tech companies are gearing up to provide consumers with mobile payment services.
While this will create interesting and convenient new apps, mobile payments will also provide more consumer data to more companies than traditional offline credit card transactions. Without strong user privacy controls, mobile payments may turn your cell phone into a magnet for telemarketing, spam, and online behavioral advertising.
CDT Statement on Passage of CISPA
The Center for Democracy & Technology is disappointed that CISPA passed the House in such flawed form and under such a flawed process.
We worked very hard in cooperation with the Intelligence Committee to develop amendments to narrow some of the bill’s definitions and to limit its scope. We are very pleased that those amendments were adopted, leaving the bill better for privacy and civil liberties than it was going into the process.
However, we are also disappointed that House leadership chose to block amendments on two core issues we had long identified – the flow of information from the private sector directly to NSA and the use of that information for national security purposes unrelated to cybersecurity.
Intellectual Property Issues
Library Associations File Brief in Defense of Fair Use
Last Friday, the Association of Research Libraries, the American Library Association, and the Association of College and Research Libraries filed a friend of the court brief to defend the fair use rights of libraries. The brief responds to the Authors Guild’s extraordinary arguments in a lawsuit against the Hathi Trust and several member libraries.
Palestinian Authority Found to Block Critical News Sites
According to a report from Ma’an News published today, the Palestinian Authority has ordered the blocking of websites belonging to eight news outlets critical of President Mahmoud Abbas. The report states that technicians at PalTel—the largest ISP in the West Bank—tweaked their proxy server and web cache daemon to block the sites, while other ISPs are using similar setups.
ACTA in the EU: We Can’t Call it Dead Yet
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was dealt a major blow on April 12 when MEP David Martin, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the agreement and member of the Committee responsible for delivering the recommendation to European Parliament to adopt or reject the agreement, announced that he would be recommending a "no" vote. While the prospects of the European Parliament ratifying the agreement seems to have fortunately lessened, it does not mean that it’s a fait accompli that the European Parliament will reject ACTA. As we’ve noted before, ACTA is a plurilateral agreement designed to broaden and extend existing intellectual property enforcement laws to the Internet. It was negotiated in secret by a handful of countries, in a process that intentionally bypassed the checks and balances of existing international IP norm-setting bodies without any meaningful input from national parliaments, policymakers, or their citizens.