Today in OpenGov: Fears of federal data disappearing grow, transparency in Nigeria, disinfecting ransomware…


In today's edition, we try to stay on top of the latest news from the White House, learn about a Nigerian transparency campaign, shed some light on a ransomware campaign, and more…

Disappearing data


  • Access to certain data obscured under Trump. "The Trump administration has removed or tucked away a wide variety of information that until recently was provided to the public, limiting access, for instance, to disclosures about workplace violations, energy efficiency, and animal welfare abuses." (Washington Post) Some of the changes are more concerning than others, but all are worth investigating.
  • Sunlight has been tracking data removed from the internet during the Trump administration and will continue to do so. We have also expressed our concerns over the President's lack of transparency around ethics waivers, White House visitor logs, and much more.  

weekend in trumpland

Image Credit: CNN Money/Shutterstock/Getty
  • Instead of releasing his tax returns President Trump got a letter from his lawyers to prove he's not in business with Russians. "President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers said in a letter that his tax returns from the past 10 years show that — with a few exceptions — he received no income from Russian sources and owed no debts to Russian lenders…An independent tax lawyer questioned the letter’s value," noting how easy it is to conceal the real source of income and debt. (Bloomberg) Sunlight's take? This letter from Trump lawyers is no substitute for President Trump disclosing his tax returns.
  • While firing back at Comey on Twitter, Trump raised the possibility that he is taping White House conversations. "The suggestion that the president may be surreptitiously recording his meetings or telephone calls added a twist at the end of a week that roiled Washington. The president and his spokesman later refused to say whether he tapes his visitors, something Mr. Trump was suspected of doing when he was in business in New York." (New York Times
  • WHCA decries Trump threat to do away with press briefings. "President Trump's threat to cancel future White House press briefings would 'reduce accountability,' the president of the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) said on Friday." (The Hill)

sunshine disinfects computer viruses, too


  • National governments are responding to an unprecedented wave of digital attacks in dozens of countries that uses ransomware to lock up multiple computers and demand payment. The attacks have compromised hospitals, utilities and telecom companies, among many other institutions and organizations. Microsoft and security experts say the software is based on tools stolen from the National Security Agency. (Wired)
  • This should reopen the debate on whether it's wise for the US government to stockpile vulnerabilites in an operating system when doing so puts billions of risk. (Wall Street Journal)

around the world

Image Credit: Tomek Nacho
  • Leaked documents connect American mega-donor Robert Mercer to Brexit campaign. "This is a deeply complex story. It has taken three months of investigation to unravel the web of connections – both human and contractual. But these connections and threads linking two separate foreign data analytics companies – one based in Canada and one based in London – raise profound and troubling questions about our democratic process. Because these intricate links lead, in not many steps, to Robert Mercer." (The Guardian)
  • Mobile platform helps refugees reconnect with family. "Two Danish brothers and social entrepreneurs David and Christopher Mikkelsen have found a solution to this challenge. Their platform, REFUNITE, for Refugees United, has enabled more than half a million migrants around the world to re-establish lost contact with their families." (Global Voices)
  • Transparency campaign sheds light on Nigeria's legislative budget. "After many years of keeping its budget secret, Nigeria’s National Assembly, made up of the Senate and House of Representatives, has finally published a breakdown of its annual budget." (Quartz)

save the dates

  • #TCampAZ is coming up on May 22 in Phoenix. Learn more on Facebook and get your tickets hereThis one-day unconference will bring together the government representatives, developers and journalists to solve problems relating to civic data access. TCamp participants design the agenda, present their ideas and dive into the challenges, success stories and new possibilities during morning and afternoon breakout sessions. It is being hosted by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting with key partners including Sunlight, Galvanize, and the Institute for Digital Progress.
  • May 17th: Reboot Congress 2017 and the 2017 Doorstop Awards in Washington, DC. "Held in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, Reboot Congress 2017, is an invite-only conversation that will bring together a dynamic mix of problem solvers – civic tech innovators, engineers and designers, elected officials, senior staffers, policy experts, and other stakeholders working to modernize Congress." Learn more here.
  • May 19th and 20th: Global Legislative Openness Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. "This 2-day event is hosted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, organized by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and Open Parliament Initiative in Ukraine. The event will convene leading legislators, government officials, and civil society representatives to consider how legislative openness can strengthen public trust in representative institutions and build a responsive, 21st century legislature. In addition, the conference will explore how parliaments can best leverage the Open Government Partnership's new legislative engagement policy to develop and implement legislative openness plans and commitments." Learn more here. 
  • June 8th and 9th: Personal Democracy Forum 2017 in New York City. "The annual flagship conference brings together close to 1,000 top technologists, campaigners, hackers, opinion-makers, government officials, journalists, and academics for two days of game-changing talks, workshops, and networking opportunities to celebrate the power and potential of tech to make real change happen." Check out the panels and Learn more about #PDF17 and get your tickets here
  • June 27th: Legislative Data and Transparency Conference in Washington, DC. "The Legislative Data and Transparency Conference 2017 (#LDTC17), hosted by the Committee on House Administration, will take place on Tuesday, June 27, 2017in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium. The #LDTC17 brings individuals from Legislative Branch agencies together with data users and transparency advocates to foster a conversation about the use of legislative data – addressing how agencies use technology well and how they can use it better in the future." Learn more here
  • June 29th: DATA Act Summit 2017 in Washington, DC. "The fourth annual DATA Act Summit, hosted by the Data Coalition and Booz Allen Hamilton, will bring together supporters of the open data transformation from across government and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 11th and 12th: TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. Learn more, submit a session proposal, and register to attend here.


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