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Tag Archive: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Telecom’s K Street Buy

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Glenn Greenwald's latest column illustrates how telecom companies are attempting to buy amnesty from Congress through a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign. He is dead on by calling the effort "a perfect microcosm for how our government institutions work." 

By accessing the Center for Responsive Politics' lobbying database, Greenwald reports that in the first three months of this year, three telecom companies (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast) have spent a combined $13 million lobbying Congress.  If they maintain this pace throughout this year (and what's to stop them?), the three companies will spend $50 million. Nonprofit groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are leading the fight against amnesty.  Greenwald links to a post by Kurt Opsahl, EFF senior staff attorney, on his organization's Deeplinks Blog.  Opsahl makes the point that "AT&T's spending for three months on lobbying alone is significantly more than the entire EFF budget for a whole year, from attorneys to sysadmins, pencils to bandwidth."Wanna place any bets on the outcome of this one?

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The Good Guys Win One for Transparency

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Yes! A U.S. district judge is forcing the feds to make public the lobbying records of telecom companies regarding the congressional debate over amnesty in the electronic surveillance legislation. The victory was won by our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who had made the case that the public has the right to full disclosure before Congress decides on the pending telecom amnesty proposals. In addition to the good news above, the judge ruled that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) must make the records public for a December 10 deadline. Yea, again. Timeliness is important when it comes to disclosure. This means that the disclosures will have a role in the ongoing congressional debate. So far, the House and the Senate committees dealing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have not yet let the telecom companies off the hook for the illegal spying on American citizens, despite a furious lobbying campaign by the administration and the industry.

Last month, EFF filed suit against the ODNI, demanding any information about telecommunications companies' lobbying efforts. "(The judge) agreed that the Administration is dragging its feet in making relevant information available and stressed that the public has a right to full disclosure before Congress acts on the pending telecom amnesty proposals," said EFF's senior counsel in a press release. "The court's order confirms our belief that aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act is needed to challenge government secrecy."

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FOIA Tips

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The folks over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation are releasing tips and guidelines on how to use FOIA, recognizing that so much good investigative reporting is happening live on the web. (Is it really happening anywhere else?)

There an FAQ on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that outlines how to use open government laws to get access to records kept by federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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