Last week we wrote about the recent trend towards secrecy in international trade negotiations, including a discussion of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major agreement currently being hammered out. This week two developments have highlighted the broad desire, as well as the need, for more transparency in these talks. Yesterday Wikileaks released a draft chapter from the TPP dedicated to intellectual property. The leaked document represents the state of negotiation following a round of talks that took place on August 26-30th in Brunei. It includes notations detailing how each negotiating country feels about the various points still under contention.Continue reading
Interests backing a controversial cyber security bill up for a vote in the House today have a big edge in campaign donations and lobbying reserves. But opponents have President Barack Obama's veto pen.Continue reading
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.
Seamus Kraft is the Executive Director at OpenGov Foundation -- an organization dedicated to developing and deploying technologies that support every citizen's ability to participate in their government and hold it accountable. You can reach him at
The best technology is insidiously useful. It does not force better ways of doing business. It suggests them, extending the familiar and comfortable without the user realizing she has gone farther, faster, smoother. Like the perfect note in a song, you cannot imagine it not being there.
But technology is only a tool. If it helps you do your job or live your life more efficiently and effectively, buy it. If it makes life harder, slower or more costly, don’t buy it. Plain and simple. Especially in the United States Congress, where money, time and tech are scarcer than snowballs in Silicon Valley.
The purpose of Congress is to make policy on behalf of taxpayers. Public officials perform very specific and specialized tasks to fulfill that purpose. Citizens keep an eye on them and hold them accountable. Can technology help these users — inside and outside of government — collaborate to do their jobs better? Project Madison, launched by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), was our first attempt at answering in the affirmative.
If there were any question of the clout big media wields in Washington, the fate of Derek Khanna, the House Republican staffer who called for scaling back the copyright protections these interests benefit from, should leave no doubt. Khanna, whose copyright paper was mistakenly published online by a House Republican policy making body, then quickly withdrawn after protests erupted from major media firms and their congressional allies, was fired earlier this month.
That's not the only potential win for the intellectual property protection lobby this month--the House Judiciary Committee today is taking time in the lame duck session to ...Continue reading
Facebook, which has set off a frenzy of market speculation with its plans go public as early as Friday, isn't just raising its profile on Wall Street. As the social networking giant prepares for its initial stock offering, Sunlight decided to take a look at how Facebook is doing when it comes to political networking. Our finding: The company with the famously hoodied CEO is beginning to grow up, at least in the ways of Washington.
In the first quarter of this year, Facebook spent $650,000 lobbying Congress, according to a report filed with the Senate Office of ...Continue reading
Nicole Seligman's newly official promotion to president of the Sony Corporation is the latest evidence of the powerful political connections that have been amassed by interests battling to stop online piracy, and enhances the status of what might be called SOPA's power couple.
Seligman, who as Sony's vice president and general counsel was an outspoken advocate for the entertainment giant's intellectual property rights, is the wife of Joel Klein, a former Justice Department top gun who in 2010 left his post as chancellor of New York City schools to hire on with another corporation that has ...Continue reading
A Sunlight analysis of the fight on Capitol Hill over SOPA is generating some pushback in the online community from activists who think we overstated the role of money and corporate lobbying in the debate. In the interest of broadening and deepening the conversation, we asked one of our critics, Mike Godwin, a former counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Wikimedia, for permission to print his counterpoint: I believe that Sunlight (and one of its primary sources, OpenSecrets.org) missed the story. Just as I would not write an Occupy movement story grounded in how much money was spent for food, medical care, and tents, I wouldn't write about a "net-roots" popular movement focusing on the convenient fact that money was spent inside the Beltway during the time that the popular movement seems, temporarily, to have given some tech companies some traction on one issue. It's well-established that Google's estimable DC presence -- their many dollars and their top-notch personnel -- had little effect on the ETAs of the SOPA and PIPA legislation before the holiday break. What changed the debate was not "politics as usual" or an infusion of cash, but the participation of the online community, including Wikipedia, Reddit, and others, to let policymakers know about their unhappiness with the direction and process of the legislation. This response was not organized by Google or any tech money at all (except perhaps the meager salaries that tech-policy writers tend to receive).Continue reading
The political scientist E.E. Schattschneider once called politics “the mobilization of bias.” By this, he meant something both simple and... View ArticleContinue reading
Recent calls for technologists to hire lobbyists to educate Washington on internet issues miss a significant part of the big... View ArticleContinue reading