All across America, families use benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — formerly, and colloquially, known as the Food Stamp program) to buy food, but participation in SNAP varies from store to store, and the federal regulator that oversees the program has denied requests to turn over data on retailer-specific use of SNAP benefits. However, yesterday a federal court ruled that the government can no longer shield this information from public view. [More]
In the months following the tragic Dec. 2, 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, the FBI and Apple engaged in a heated legal (and publicity) battle over whether or not the tech giant could be compelled to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the attackers. Then in March 2016, the FBI paid an unidentified third party to provide a solution this particular problem. The identity and actual cost of this unlocking is still unknown, but two of the country’s biggest media companies have sued the FBI to learn more. [More]
Legislators in D.C. are currently considering a law that would compel tech companies to have weak device and software encryption so that law enforcement can snoop when necessary, while federal prosecutors have repeatedly used a 227-year-old law to try to force Apple and Google to work around existing security on their products. A new lawsuit seeks to find out if the government has also been using a highly secretive court to force tech companies to assist in breaking their own encryption. [More]
Oscar-Winning Director Of Snowden Documentary Trying To Find Out Why She’s Been Detained At Airports So Much
Laura Poitras recently won the Academy Award for CITIZENFOUR, her documentary on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, but the director claims that she’s long been hassled by U.S. federal authorities for years, resulting in multiple unmerited airport detentions. Now she’s suing the government to find out exactly why. [More]
While some folks seek to streamline the oft-complicated process of filing a Freedom Of Information Act request with the government, the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon is turning its back on some of those requests because it can’t be bothered to get its stupid fax machine fixed. [More]
Though the name of the Freedom Of Information Act might make it sound like one can just submit a request for government records and they will be released without hassle, in reality it’s a much more complicated process that can cost a lot of money and make even hardened investigators feel like giving up. That’s why the Center for Investigative Reporting has created the FOIA Machine. [More]
Lastmonth, InformationWeek filed a Freedom of Information request with the FCC and the FTC for complaints made about the iPhone in the past year. Although the breakdown of complaints is interesting, what I found most striking was that in a nation of over 11 million iPhone owners, less than 600 complaints were filed in the past 14 months*, and some of those were for other Apple products. If you have a legitimate grievance with a company, you might have a much better chance of being heard by the FCC or FTC than you think.
The Federal Reserve tried to hide the identities of companies that received emergency funding as the world economy went to hell, but a federal judge stepped in with a backhand Monday and stopped the practice, saying the Fed had failed to show that naming the businesses would cause “imminent competitive harm.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to definitively know which cellphone network had the fewest outages?