Today in OpenGov: Why we need you and your ideas at TransparencyCamp


ENTANGLED: A new feature by Kurt Eichenwald reported the myriad of personal and financial interests that the Trump Company holds that create conflicts of interest for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Eichenwald’s reporting would be stronger if Trump had disclosed his taxes, like every presidential nominee has for decades, but what he’s documented is enough to ask important questions that the nominee should address prior to Election Day. Former Treasury Secretary Paulson sold his Goldman Sachs shares to remove conflicts. A similar but much broader act of divestment would be needed to avoid foreign entanglements and influence. A President can’t recuse him or herself from foreign policy decisions in these countries, nor should the public have to wonder whether he or she will do so. [Newsweek]

2016: Freedom of Information Act disclosures published online and hacks of private citizens and organizations are playing an unprecedented role in the U.S. presidential campaign. Today, private emails sent by former Secretary of State Colin Powell were published online. [New York Times]

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OVERSTEPPING: The House Science Committee is using its powers to intimidate scientists and nonprofits. As we noted yesterday, the abuse of Congressional oversight authority poses a threat to open government advocacy work – including Sunlight’s. [New Yorker]

INFLUENCE EXPLORED:  Ed Pilkington reported on sealed Wisconsin court documents regarding an investigation of Gov. Scott Walker that show the extent of corporate influence in the state. [Guardian]

IDEAS, PLEASE! We’ve opened up TCamp’s 2016 “Submit a Session” page and are now accepting suggestions! This is your chance to propose sessions that you either want to lead or see others take on. Soon, we’ll open up the schedule so folks can vote on ideas they want to see the most. If your session (or one that you’ve voted on) is one of the top vote-getters, it will be guaranteed a slot at TCamp. But hurry: Proposing sessions is only open for a limited time. Registration is open for TransparencyCamp in Cleveland on October 14-15. Please submit a session, spread the word and come! [REGISTER]


  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation into the Trump Foundation. [Politico]
  • The Clinton Health Initiative – the biggest single component of the Clinton Foundation – will sever ties with the Clinton family. [WSJ]
  • Lack of disclosures make Trump the least transparent major party presidential nominee in modern history. [NBC News]
  • Two reporters dug deep into how the major presidential nominees might run the federal government. [GovExec]
  • Per Ken Vogel and Eric Geller, “hackers are targeting state Democratic Party officials and have successfully breached and impersonated some of them, according to a message the Association of State Democratic Chairs sent Wednesday to its members.” The DNC warned its members to avoid searching the archives of Wikileaks. To restate what should be clear: If you knowingly host malware next to hacked private documents, you’re no friend of open government. [Politico]
  • As reports of the newsworthy aspects of the hacks by Buzzfeed, the Intercept, CNBC, the Daily Caller, and many other outlets demonstrate, there’s an underlying issue that bears more scrutiny. There are risks that journalists run by reporting on information hosted by DCLeaks or other opaque entities online. Additionally, there are ethics and privacy questions of reporting on hacked emails of former government officials, as well as linking to images to sourcing data. Editors need to consider how difficult it is for bad actors to edit or fake an email and mix it into genuine records. Newsrooms need to ensure reporters are firing up virtual machines or using burner PCs and phones to access these hacked emails to protect themselves and colleagues from malware. Reporters need to reach out to purported authors or recipients in emails to confirm quotes and redact personal information that fails the public interest balancing test if they publish screenshots. Given the demonstrated lack of amplification of corrections online, editors need to take care to ensure hacked emails are real: intelligence agencies know how quick media are to click shortened URLs and amplify what they find without thorough vetting.


  • In happier news, Carla Hayden was sworn in as the Librarian of Congress today. While the ceremony at the Jefferson Building in DC was closed to the public, the Library of Congress streamed it online for the world to see. Hayden is the first African-American, first woman and first librarian to assume the office. She’s also the first Librarian of Congress to join Twitter. We look forward to forward to collaborating with her to increase public access to public knowledge.


  • The General Accountability Office released a report that found Freedom of Information Act lawsuits had risen 57 percent since 2006 and that the Justice Department was not tracking how much taxpayers were spending on them. At minimum, under the DATA Act the Justice Department should accurately track and disclose the cost of FOIA litigation on [GovExec]
  • A federal appeals court found that Yelp is not responsible for bad reviews of businesses, citing the Communication Decency Act for not enforcing intermediary liability. [LA Times]
  • The Information Security Oversight Office issued a final rule on controlled unclassified information. [Federal Register]


  • The digital divide is narrowing, but it still persists in many disconnected or underconnected low-income households across the United States. This poses enduring questions about how local, state and federal government should pursue the divide making sure that when public equals online, all members of the public have access to information. Civil rights depend upon it. [Washington Post]
  • On that count, New York City has disabled Internet browsing at the new wifi kiosks around Gotham after members of the public used them to stream movies, play games and view pornography. Given this entirely predictable behavior by the humans of New York, it calls into question how well-planned the rollout of these kiosks was, or why the filtering software in place around the New York Public Library system wasn’t installed at the outset or after complaints. It’s a loss for the poorest citizens of Gotham. [New York Times]


  • Social entrepreneurs and engineers continue to hope that new technologies can be used to revive democracies around the world. We’re hopeful too, but the past decade has shown that building civic technology isn’t the same as consumer technology. [FastCoExist]
  • The State Department welcomed a report by The Sentry documenting corruption in South Sudan but did not link to it. The findings of the investigation deserve to be distributed widely. [The Sentry]




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