STATUS QUO: This week, “the House of Representatives voted down an amendment to the financial services and general government appropriations bill that would’ve boosted the IRS’ ability to regulate political dark money and rein in unaccountable spending on elections.” And so it goes. [READ MORE]
BLURRY: Libby Watson looked at Independent Journal Review and Blue State Nation. Her conclusion? “Readers deserve transparency about the relationship between the sites they trust to provide the news and any relationships with candidates for office those outlets might have.” [READ MORE]
STAY OPEN: Azeezat Adeleke: “Washington, D.C., boasts a unique system of neighborhood governance, but a proposed bill would eliminate the rights of District residents to hold their most local officials accountable.” Sunlight testified against it. [READ MORE]
TAKE HEED: A federal court ruling extended the Freedom of Information Act’s reach to private messaging systems. Public business is public business, regardless of where a public servant conducts it. [READ MORE]
- The United States is mourning 5 police officers who were killed while protecting protestors in Dallas last night who were calling for reforms in the criminal justice system. Both President Barack Obama commented on their deaths, less then 24 hours after he posted a statement on Facebook regarding fatal shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called for an end to violence and action to address the challenges that confront the nation. The Dallas News has full, ongoing coverage of what’s happening in Texas.
- “New York City-based groups Color of Change and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a joint Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security seeking documents, video and audio recordings, and other information on policies and protocols related to the surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists.” [Mother Jones]
- FBI Director James Comey testified for hours yesterday in the U.S. House regarding the unanimous decision of investigators not to recommend criminal prosecution for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a personal email system. In an alternate universe, this Congressional hearing would have focused more on oversight of current agency digital record keeping practices and security protections, but, as Comey noted, the public deserves more understanding of how and why the investigation concluded as it did. Comey repeatedly testified that neither the White House nor the Clinton campaign interfered with the FBI’s investigation, which is good news for preserving the independence of the federal law enforcement outside of politics. [Politico]
- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) introduced H.R.5658, the TALENT Act of 2016, which would codify the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program into law. [GovTrack.us]
- A Senate bill to label genetically modified food has a huge flaw: “instead of requiring a simple label, as the Vermont law does — it would allow food companies to put the information in electronic codes that consumers would have to scan with smartphones or at scanners installed by grocery stores.” That empowers the empowered, not informing everyone. The public should be able to know where and how food is grown or made, what’s in it, and how it was handled and transported. Such codes can enable that information to be disclosed, but they’re not sufficient. [New York Times]
- In 2016, the Senate is still disclosing campaign finance records on paper. Here are 11 simple ways to improve the accountability of the US Senate, by former Sunlighter Daniel Schuman. [Sunlight]
- Thirty senior staffers on Capitol Hill have formed a Congressional Tech Staff Association. [TechStaffer.org]
State and Local
- Lack of transparency and accountability for the use of lethal force by police forces reduces trust in our communities.In that context, the Dallas Police Department has been a national leader in “reality-based training” and adoption of body and dashcams. Excessive force complaints have dropped in recent years. [Dallas News]
- In that context, we hope that the push for police transparency laws that are stuck in Sacramento does not relent. [SF Chronicle]
- Technology companies that operate social media platforms are now hosting livestreams and archived video of the interactions between law enforcement and civilians. [New York Times]
- That puts technology companies into a key role as the stewards of evidence, which means that Facebook, Google, Twitter and others will have to answer hard questions about their policies for handling these videos. The companies should take time, think through the role they wish to play in civil society, then set public standards to bear witness. [Buzzfeed]
- Dallas police used a bomb robot to kill a shooting suspect, detonating a small bomb on an extension to the device. It appears to be the first use of a robot by civil law enforcement in the United States, and it is unlikely to be the last. If so, police forces need to be proactive in creating policies and telling communities about what they’re doing. The informed consent of the governed is necessary as shifts in technology adds capacity and tools for civilian law enforcement to apply lethal force. [The Atlantic]
- WNYC is teaming up with AdaptNY and ISeeChange weather journal to document how hot it gets inside apartments in Harlem in New York City that aren’t air-conditioned. This is an important example of how data-driven sensor journalism can inform the public. [WNYC] [Poynter]
- Here’s one for the weekend, from Paul Ford, who argues that “there’s an obvious connection between a decentralized internet, in which individuals create and oversee their own digital identities, and a functioning democracy, in which we make informed choices about who rules us and how we are ruled.” [New Republic]
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