Today in OpenGov: Corruption currents, “pop-up PACs” and “factivism”


20151106-702Mem_Opinion_Order_for_Public_Release_pdf_-__Private_Browsing_ TOP STORY: Judge Thomas F. Hogan, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, rejected a legal challenge to rules that allow FBI agents working on domestic criminal cases to search email written by American citizens that was intercepted without a warrant in the context of collecting foreign intelligence. The 80-page opinion was issued in November and declassified yesterday, when it was shared on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Tumblr, along with two other decisions. [New York Times]

WHAT ARE YOU READING? We think Wall Street Journal’s “Corruption Currents” is a terrific roundup of global news about corruption. If you know of other relevant digests, outlets or authors, please let us know at


  • Internal records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the nonprofit advocacy group Protect Our Defenders showed that the U.S. Department of Defense misled Congress about how the Pentagon handles allegations of sexual misconduct. [AP]
  • The Federal Reserve’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report recommending that the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System should strengthen the ways its safeguards sensitive economic information provided to media organizations under an embargo. [Wall Street Journal]
  • Data collected by the Census Bureau on behalf of the U.S. Commerce Department shows Americans are moving from wired to wireless Internet access. [Washington Post]
  • The FBI told Congress that it needs to rely on for-profit hackers to assist in its investigations, like accessing Apple iPhones. [New York Times]
  • Quartz analyzed FEC data to determine which presidential candidates the employees of technology companies support. [QZ]
  • Exxon is fighting a subpoena by the U.S. Virginia Island Attorney General to produce internal documents on climate change, arguing that the order violates its First Amendment rights. [Huffington Post]
  • The Sunlight Foundation joined a broad coalition of groups supporting Dr. Carla Hayden to be the nation’s fourteenth Librarian of Congress.
  • Sunlight Foundation advisor Micah Sifry wrote about “voting with no illusions.” [Civicist]

State and Local

  • Knight Foundation grantee Vermont Digger uses the Sunlight Labs OpenStates API in its new Catamount tool. [Hat Tip Kat Duffy]
  • Beth Blauer, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence, wrote about turning data into action — and why it matters. [Bloomberg Philanthropies]
  • A Congressional candidate in Georgia is smiling due to the support of dentists which demonstrated to have the Best Company around. [Atlanta-Journal Constitution]
  • The federal probe into corruption in the New York Police Department remains “very active.” [DNA Info]
  • Two state regulators and a city employee will face criminal charges related to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. [AP]


  • Let the sunshine in! Global Witness campaigner Robert Palmer joined the chorus of voices urging governments to create publicly accessible registers of company ownership. [Foreign Policy]
  • According to Andrew MacDowall, Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate has made a genuine impact on corruption. [Politico]
  • Eric Jackson wrote about a way forward for open budgets at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government. [UNC]
  • The State Department blogged about data, design and ‘factivism’. Yes, it’s definitely 2016. [Medium]
  • Open data can have a positive impact on food security and agricultural production. [E&T]
  • Anja Manuel explored how identity and digital payments relate to tackling graft in India. [New York Times]
  • Sarah Jeong wrote about some of the risks that such digital payment systems may pose. [The Atlantic]
  • The European Union charged Google with breaking antitrust rules by bundling its own services into the Android operating system. [New York Times]
  • Riyadh Al Balushi wrote about open data in the Arab World. You can the full report and find some discussion of it over on Facebook. [OKFN]
  • The Open Knowledge Foundation published its 2015 international annual report. [OKFN]
  • Senior officials in Australia are calling for reform of the country’s freedom of information law to conceal advice from ministers from public scrutiny. [Canberra Times]
  • Rosie Williams wrote about what she’s seeing in Australia’s government bureaucracy in the context of its involvement in the Open Government Partnership. [OpenAus]
  • The lower house of Brazil’s Congress voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Now the debate is moving to the Senate, where legislators will debate the legal question of whether her administration’s fiscal actions constituted a crime. A bigger story, however, might be the corruption the investigation has revealed across the country’s political spectrum.


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