Today in OpenGov: Fakebooking


In today's edition, we get excited for the official launch of our Tactical Data Engagement guide, MuckRock looks at the DACA database, important questions get asked about tracking political ads online, a new site should help improve EU budget transparency, and more…


Donald Trump Jr. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
  • Trump Jr. talks with Senate Judiciary staff. "Donald Trump Jr. discussed details of his much-scrutinized meeting with several Russians during the presidential campaign in a five-hour, closed-door meeting Thursday with staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee." (Bloomberg)
  • House Ways and Means votes against Trump tax transparency resolution. "The House Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines to unfavorably report" a measure, introduced by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), that would have required the Treasury Department to turn over the President's tax returns to the House. (The Hill)
  • Deadline arrives for DHS to release Mar-a-Lago visitor logs. Today marks "the deadline for the Department of Homeland Security to release all responsive, non-exempt records of presidential visits to Mar-a-Lago in response to a FOIA lawsuit brought by the National Security Archive, together with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)." (National Security Archive)
  • Can DACA database be used for deportations? "With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program formally rescinded (with a six-month implementation delay), there have been a lot of questions about whether the databases created for the program – as well as state and local support programs – could ultimately be used against DACA recipients." Michael Morisy digs into those questions, with a particular focus on previous examples of databases being repurposed "beyond initial intended uses." (MuckRock)

washington watch

Image Credit: Markus Spiske
  • Fakebook? Scott Shane reports on what happened on the world's biggest social network last fall: "An investigation by The New York Times, and new research from the cybersecurity firm FireEye, reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. On Wednesday, Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign." (New York Times)
  • Facebook ad revelations bring up questions about disclosure on digital platforms. "Facebook is facing a new push to reveal how its vast power is being used after it disclosed that roughly $100,000 worth of political ads were purchased on its platform by fake accounts and pages connected to a Russian troll operation," reports Craig Silverman for BuzzFeed. Sunlight's Alex Howard explained that the lack of disclosure around online political ads can create a weapon against liberal democracy, saying "It removes our ability to have transparency into who is trying to influence our politics, and any accountability for that influence…And it takes away from the capacity of the traditional organs of democracy — that being the press and regulators and other institutions — to figure out who is behind political messaging, particularly at crucial times.”
  • Closed-door negotiations may stall tax reform efforts. "While there is a renewed commitment to get a tax overhaul complete this year, Republican senators expressed concern that the secretive process that ultimately doomed the effort to repeal the 2010 health care law will happen again." (Roll Call)
  • NARA focused on helping agencies adopt digital record-keeping. Following last month's release of its draft strategic plan, which outlined "aggressive goals for achieving a fully electronic archive by the end of 2022," Chase Gunter reports that the National Archives and Records Administration "has new plans to help agencies stay on track with the shift to all-digital records management." (Federal Computer Week)
  • Equifax data breach exposes more than 140 million Americans. "Equifax, a provider of consumer credit reports, said it experienced a data breach affecting as many as 143 million US people after criminals exploited a vulnerability on its website. The US population is about 324 million people, so that's about 44 percent of its population." (Ars Technica) As data breaches at private companies as well as federal agencies continue to negatively effect American citizens, we can't help but wonder when Congress will pass a national data breach law? 

around the world

Some of the possibilities provided by
  • A new EU budget transparency platform. "Today, OpenBudgets officially launches its fiscal transparency platform. Using journalists, civil servants, and data scientists can process, analyse, and explore the nature and relevance of fiscal data." (Open Knowledge)
  • Amid escalating protests, Togo shuts down internet and SMS access. "Internet and mobile SMS fell into a total blackout in the West African nation of Togo on the morning of September 7…Anti-government protests have been surging in the capital Lomé, with opposition leaders now demanding that President Faure Gnassingbé step down. On September 5, users began reporting that mobile internet connections were spotty and that social media sites like Facebook were inaccessible altogether." (Global Voices)
  • Election software may be at hacking risk ahead of German vote. Security flaws have been found in a piece of software that is commonly "used to collect and transfer votes from local polling centers to the state level." The identified threats are unlikely to harm final vote tallies, but could effect reporting of preliminary results. (POLITICO)

save the dates

  • September 11th and 12th: Civic Tech Fest and 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. The agenda is up now and you can still get tickets here!
  • September 13th: Civic and Gov Tech Showcase in San Jose, California. "Innovate Your State, in partnership with Microsoft and the City of San Jose, is bringing the 3nd Annual Civic & Gov Tech Showcase to the Capitol of Silicon Valley. The Civic & Gov Tech Showcase is an opportunity to connect with civic minded entrepreneurs, potential investors, and government leaders to showcase the great work that is being done to improve government and governance. The goal of the event is to encourage collaboration and the support of new technologies to improve government and public participation." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 14th – 16th: Digital Humanities and Data Journalism Symposium, in Miami, Florida. "Digital humanists and data journalists face common challenges, opportunities, and goals, such as how to communicate effectively with the public. They use similar software tools, programming languages, and techniques, and they can learn from each other. Join us for lectures and tutorials about shared data types, visualization methods, and data communication — including text visualization, network diagrams, maps, databases and data wrangling. In addition to the scheduled content, there will be opportunities for casual conversation and networking." Learn more and register here.
  • September 19th, 1:00 pm EST: Tactical Data Engagement Kickoff Discussion, Webinar. Join the Sunlight Foundation for the official launch of Tactical Data Engagement, a guide to help cities facilitate the impactful use of open data by collaborating with communities. As part of the launch we’ll be hosting a kickoff conversation about the guide and the tactical engagement process. Join us on September 19 at 1 PM EDT for a free webinar. Hear from Sunlight's Open Cities experts, who have worked with dozens of cities on the ideas outlined in the guide. Participants are welcome and encouraged to bring questions about the ways open data could be used to help solve their own city's challenges. Register for the Webinar here
  • September 26th: Data Transparency 2017, in Washington, DC. Hosted by the Data Foundation, "Data Transparency 2017 is Washington's largest open data event, bringing together government leaders, transparency advocates, and the technology industry to explore how technology can transform government, compliance, and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 28th: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information, Paris, France. "The 'IPDCtalks' will be held to highlight and elaborate on the importance of Access to Information for all sustainable development efforts around the world. It will consist of a series of attractive and dynamic talks from global public leaders, top journalists, young intellectuals and community leaders. While some of the speakers will elaborate on the key role of Access to Information for the achievement of a particular Sustainable Development Goal, others will reflect on the essential role of Access to Information for our society and future." You can learn more on the event website. If you're interested, but can't attend the event will be broadcast live on the web.
  • October 13th – 14th: 2017 FOI Summit, Nashville, Tennessee. "Music City USA becomes home for NFOIC, state FOI coalitions and open government advocates for the 2017 FOI Summit on Friday and Saturday, October 13-14, 2017.The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and our host, the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government will convene the annual summit at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University." You can learn more and register here


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