Today in #OpenGov 7/24/2014


Keep reading for today’s look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis, including upcoming privacy guidelines for commercial drone use, controversies surrounding Japan’s Secrecy Act and its possible loopholes for stifling journalists, and the Massachusetts state House and Senate taking a firm stand on more super PAC disclosure.

A newspaper with the headline Open Gov

National News

  • Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy claims to be “close to an agreement with Obama administration on how to rein in government surveillance” with the USA Freedom Act. The draft of the bill that passed the House, however, was speculated to have been “watered down” through eleventh-hour negotiations between the administration and House leadership. (The Hill)
  • President Barack Obama plans to issue an executive order to develop privacy guidelines for commercial drones operating in U.S. airspace, such as Amazon’s proposed delivery drones. Congress set a September 2015 deadline for the agency to safely integrate drones into the nation’s airspace, though an inspector general’s report earlier this year cast doubt on the agency’s ability to meet that timeline. (Politico)
  • As the national debate about net neutrality comes to a head, the Federal Communications Commission must now not only weigh 1.07 million public comments on its controversial fast-lane net neutrality plan, but also $42 million in lobbying from Internet Service Providers. (ReCode)
  • A senior staffer for Eric Cantor will soon roam the Capitol’s halls in a different role, having just joined the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (“Big Insurance”) Capitol Hill team as director of federal government affairs. (Insurance Journal)

International News

  • A Japanese Secrecy Law, set to go into effect this December, has faced backlash for its suppression of journalistic freedoms and lack of government oversight. Using vague language, the Secrecy Bill allows journalists to be imprisoned for acquiring government information through “inappropriate means.” (Al Jazeera America)
  • Russia said Saturday it supports a transparent international investigation of the downing of a Malaysian airliner, but U.S. and other Western officials said they saw no evidence Moscow was seeking to impose that message on its eastern Ukrainian allies who still control the site of the crash. (Washington Post)
  • In Ghana, the civil society organization PENPLUSBYTES is partnering the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) to develop a digital platform that would encourage transparency in the country’s oil and gas sectors. The partnership plans to collect data through citizens and stakeholders. (All Africa)

State and Local News

  • The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed campaign finance legislation Wednesday that forces more disclosures from super PACs, an attempt to increase transparency in campaign spending in the post-Citizens United era. The bill at hand, S. 2264, requires super PACs to disclose the sources of their funding within 7 days of expenditure. (Mass Live)
  • San Jose’s Rules Committee will consider a draft ordinance and resolution for the city council to consolidate all of the city’s open government policies, processes and procedures. Meetings and events, for example, will not be arbitrarily announced 10 to 14 days in advance; instead, near-weekly event digests would streamline this disclosure. Open records requests will also be streamlined. (Mercury News)
  • A state report found that Pennsylvania inadequately performed oversight on the state’s booming natural gas industry–a reflection of the generally weak oversight of the oil and gas industry at a time when drilling is spreading across the United States. (New York Times)

Events Today

Events Tomorrow

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