In today's edition, a new way to explore the Trump family's conflicts of interest, setting up frameworks for data privacy, asking hard questions about the future of open data, and more.
- Announcing our updated tool to search more than 600 potential Trump family conflicts of interest. "President Donald J. Trump took office with an unprecedented number of potential conflicts of interest — business holdings that could prevent him from executing the duties of the presidency objectively. Since he was elected in November 2016, the Sunlight Foundation has been keeping track of these potential conflicts in an effort to untangle President Trump’s business ties so the public can better understand his financial interests. Today we’re excited to announce a new and updated database of the Trump family’s potential conflicts of interest. The update improves functionality and searchability, allowing for easier analysis. The Sunlight team also has been connecting news stories about related conflicts of interest to our database, to help the public learn more about their potential impact on President Trump’s service as President of the United States. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, this database will be updated." (Sunlight Foundation)
- Trump administration takes a two pronged approach to tech giants. "Google headed to the White House on Monday for a summit on how industry can work with the Trump administration to advance the next generation of quantum computing. On Tuesday, the company will be the topic of a much different conversation, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions scheduled to confer with state attorneys general over complaints that Google, Facebook and other internet companies are suppressing conservative views. The whiplash is the latest sign of the Trump administration's mixed message on technology — trumpeting U.S. dominance in the industry while bashing many of the most dominant U.S. tech companies." (POLITICO)
- Embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and Trump White House face pivotal Thursday. "Thursday is shaping up to be a pivotal day for the Trump administration and a remarkable day for all political junkies. President Trump plans to meet with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the Senate is expected to hear testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who has accused him of sexual assault." (The Hill)
- Representatives introduce consumer data privacy bill… "Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. have introduced a bill aiming to augment protection of U.S. consumer information. The Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act would require companies to attain user consent before being able to use private information, DelBene's office said Thursday." (Executive Government)
- …meanwhile, Google shares its suggested framework for data privacy with Congress. "Google on Monday released a set of privacy principles to guide Congress as it prepares to write legislation aimed at governing how websites collect and monetize user data. The framework largely consists of privacy principles that Google already abides by or could easily bring itself into compliance with. It calls for allowing users to easily access and control the data that’s collected about them and requiring companies to be transparent about their data practices." (The Hill)
- Former non-profit head indicted for hiding funding source for 2013 Congressional junket to Azerbaijan. "The Justice Department has issued an indictment of former non-profit head Kevin Oksuz for his role in a plot to hide the fact that a 2013 congressional delegation trip to Azerbaijan was funded by that country’s government. According to the indictment, which was unsealed Monday, Kevin, also known as Kemal, Oksuz allegedly lied on disclosure forms filed with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics prior to, and following, a privately sponsored congressional trip to Azerbaijan. Oksuz ran a Houston based nonprofit that he is accused of using to funnel money to fund the congressional trip from an oil company controlled by the Azerbaijan government." (Roll Call)
- Craigslist founder set to fund new nonprofit investigative journalism outfit focused on the impact of tech companies. "A new journalism nonprofit aimed at investigating tech giants is set to launch next year, backed by a $20 million donation from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. The Markup, which will begin publication early next year, was founded by a pair investigative journalists who previously worked at ProPublica — Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson — and Sue Gardner, former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation." (The Hill) Editor's note: Craig Newmark is a regular donor to the Sunlight Foundation and a member of our board.
around the world
- Hard questions about the future of open data ahead of the upcoming International Open Data Conference. "There are some questions like, who does open data work for? Is it really for “everyone”? And if it is not, how do we serve people who are not necessarily interested in open data data but could benefit from it? These questions are not new – in fact some have been around from the very beginning of open data. In order to advance we want to discuss if those are indeed the right questions. We acknowledge that there may be many views about this. As an example, some may think of the ‘open’ in open data as just a mechanism of sharing data. To us, open is much more than that: ‘open’ is a key value of the societies that we strive for, while being balanced appropriately with concerns around privacy and security. We will grasp the opportunity of having these great minds in one place and gather different voices from the open data space present at the conference. We will start asking some of the uncomfortable questions that will let us know if open data is actually heading into the future – or are we doing business as usual since 2008?" (Open Knowledge)
- New chat bot aims to help Russians find legal assistance if they've been detained at a protest. "When Russians took to the streets to protest proposed pension reforms on September 9, an estimated 1200 people were arrested in 38 cities. Police officers could be seen beating protesters in several instances caught on camera. September 9 was also election day for regional legislatures and the Moscow mayoralty, which may partially explain the extreme, heavy-handed actions of law enforcement during the protests. Throughout the protests and in the days that followed, the Russian non-government organization OVD-Info was gathering and disseminating information on arrests and police brutality. The group also provided legal assistance, with the help of 24-hour phone hotline — and an automated chat bot." (Global Voices)
- Austrian Interior Ministry identifies "critical" as well as cooperative media in letter to police. "Austria’s interior ministry, headed by the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), has accused several domestic media of 'one-sided and negative' reporting, and advised the police which media to talk to and how to communicate with them…The mail, sent under the name of interior ministry spokesman Christoph Pölzl, also lists media 'that are willing to cooperate'… (POLITICO)
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