It’s Sunshine Week!
Celebrating Sunshine Week 2013
“Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative highlighting the importance of open government and accountability, will be held this year from March 10-16. Created by journalists in 2002, Sunshine Week is designed to educate people on their right to access public information in understandable, user-friendly formats to participate more effectively in democracy and to use such information to protect and improve their communities. Sunshine Week coincides with James Madison’s birthday on March 16. Madison is considered the “Founding Father of Freedom of Information.” During the week, news media, government officials, educational institutions, libraries, nonprofit organizations, individuals, and anyone with an interest in open and transparent government can take part in a variety of events and activities. Shedding new light on the latest developments in freedom of government information, these events will include conferences, panel discussions, and workshops. Here are some notable events that will take place in Washington, D.C., throughout the week”
Freedom of Information
It’s Time to Give the Public Access to CRS Reports
“Today, Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) reintroduced legislation that will make it easier for the public, the media, and government employees to better understand the important policy matters facing Congress. The bipartisan “Public Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Resolution of 2013″ would ensure that these reports, which are often cited by courts and the media and sold by third parties for $20 per copy, are freely available to the public on a website maintained by the House Clerk.”
Data transparency advocates register lobbyist
“An upstart data transparency group run by a former congressional counsel has registered its first lobbyist, new U.S. Senate filings show. Hudson Hollister, a Republican who until last year served as counsel to the U.S. House’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will lobby on behalf of the Data Transparency Coalition, which wants the federal government to institute “greater efficiency and better transparency by deploying consistent data standards.”"
Google Transparency Report Highlights Just How Much We Don’t Know About National Security Letters
“In an unprecedented win for transparency, yesterday Google began publishing generalized information about the number of National Security Letters that the company received in the past year as well as the total number of user accounts affected by those requests. Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act, the National Security Letter (NSL) power provided by five statutory provisions is one of the most frightening and invasive. These letters–the type served on communications service providers such as phone companies and ISPs and are authorized by 18 U.S.C. 2709–allow the FBI to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens’ private communications and Internet activity without any prior judicial review. To make matters worse, recipients of NSLs are subject to gag orders that forbid them from ever revealing the letters’ existence to anyone.”
In Maine, ‘sunshine’ law’s fate looks dim
“The public’s access to government information is under attack in Maine. The Legislature will take up several bills this session that would further puncture the state’s open-government law, snatching from public view information that is now considered part of the public’s right to know. If approved, the measures will reinforce Maine’s national reputation as a place where transparency and government accountability rank behind privacy and other powerful interests.”
Obama’s Legacy of Transparency is Unfinished
“In a report released today, the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) examines the Obama administration’s progress on open government during the president’s first term. The review finds that the administration has issued important policy reforms, but that the implementation of White House policies has been inconsistent across federal agencies. The report, titled Delivering on Open Government: The Obama Administration’s Unfinished Legacy, reviews activity in three main areas relating to government transparency: creating an environment that supports transparency, improving the usability of government information, and reducing secrecy related to national security.”
RSVP for a related Sunshine Week panel discussion and webcast on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time! The webcast will also be archived at: http://www.youtube.com/foreffectivegov
GPO Celebrates 152 Years of Keeping America Informed
“Today is the 152nd birthday of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). The agency first opened its doors for business on March 4, 1861, the same day Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President, with a mission based on the requirement in Article I, section 5 of the Constitution that “each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same.” Since Lincoln’s time GPO has produced the official version of every great American state paper and an uncounted number of other Government publications, forms, and documents, including the Emancipation Proclamation, Social Security cards, Medicare and Medicaid information, census forms, tax forms, citizenship forms, military histories ranging from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion to the latest accounts of our forces in Afghanistan, emergency documents like the ration cards and the “Buy Bonds” posters used during World War II, the Warren Commission Report on President Kennedy’s assassination, the Watergate transcripts, the 9/11 Commission Report, Presidential inaugural addresses, Supreme Court opinions, and the great acts of Congress that have shaped American society.”
NIU Libraries launches Open Access Fund
“NIU Libraries has launched a pilot Open Access Fund that will provide small grants to faculty and graduate students to help defray the upfront costs associated with open access publishing. Grappling with the costs for expensive journal subscriptions, a number of universities nationwide, including Harvard and MIT, are promoting open access publishing. It provides unrestricted online access to peer-reviewed journal articles, thus broadening access to scholarly research. The NIU Open Access Fund seeks to advance the use of open access as a means of distributing the research and creative work of the Northern Illinois University community.”
Library Copyright Alliance Submits Reply Comments to Copyright Office on Orphan Works
“On March 5, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA, of which the American Library Association is a member) filed reply comments (pdf) to the US Copyright Office in response to the office’s October 22, 2012, Notice of Inquiry about the current state of play with orphan works and mass digitization.”
Google Says Authors Guild Lawsuit Could Shred Modern Card Catalog
“A victory for the Authors Guild in its copyright infringement case against Google would do nothing less than destroy the “modern version of the card catalog,” the search company argues in new court papers filed this week. “This case is about whether Google’s modern version of the card catalog — a search tool that allows anyone with access to the Internet to search among millions of books — can continue to exist,” Google says. Google’s sweeping rhetoric comes in its latest round of papers stemming from its book digitization effort, which involves scanning library books and displaying snippets of some of them in its search engine, in response to queries. The company is currently appealing an order by U.S. Circuit Court Judge Denny Chin allowing the Authors Guild to proceed with its case as a class-action lawsuit.”
CISPA is Back: FAQ on What it is and Why it’s Still Dangerous
“The privacy-invasive bill known as CISPA—the so-called “cybersecurity” bill—was reintroduced in February 2013. Just like last year, the bill has stirred a tremendous amount of grassroots activism because it carves a loophole in all known privacy laws and grants legal immunity for companies to share your private information. EFF has compiled an FAQ detailing how the bill’s major provisions work and how they endanger all Internet users’ privacy.”
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The Intersect Alert is a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association.