In this week’s FOIA round-up, the Pentagon is blocking requests related to Google’s work on military drones, Antifa are labeled as terrorists in an intelligence report given out to law enforcement, and officials in Virginia’s Arlington County are giving advance warning to Amazon about FOIA requests.
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The Pentagon is blocking Google’s drone work from public disclosure
According to The Intercept, The Pentagon is rejecting FOIA requests on Google’s Project Maven, which would have allowed artificial intelligence to pick drone strike targets faster. Google abandoned the project after staff outcry, but not before 5,000 pages centered around Project Maven were generated. Despite numerous FOIA requests, the Pentagon is denying access to these documents as they’re considered to be “critical infrastructure security information.”
Read more about the situation on The Intercept.
Before Charlottesville, law enforcement received a report calling Antifa “terrorists”
The Guardian reported on a Regional Organized Intelligence Crime Information Center (ROCIC) report, recently released to the non-profit Property of the People, that compared Antifa to terrorists, labeled white supremacists and alt-right groups “Anti-Antifa,” and stated that Antifa and the “Anti-Antifa” are equally responsible for street violence. The report was given to law enforcement agencies in 14 states, including Virginia, in the months leading up to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and was also provided to the U.S. Secret Service. The majority of the information in the report was sourced from conservative and right-wing advocacy groups and media.
Read more about the report here.
Virginia is forwarding FOIA requests to Amazon
As reported by ARLNow.com, officials in Arlington County, Virginia are planning to send all FOIA requests concerning Amazon to the company itself. The plan is part of the $23 million incentive package deal Arlington County gave Amazon, and although the county has yet to sign off on the FOIA deal, officials are still notifying Amazon of FOIA requests before they sign off on the deal in two weeks. This isn’t the first instance of local governments striking deals with tech giants on FOIA requests, however. The Columbia Journalism Review found that officials in Hilliard, Ohio, routinely gave Amazon five days notice on any requests related to the company and its data centers. Facebook acquired a similar deal in Albany, New York, where city officials give three days notice for FOIA requests.
Read more about the FOIA deal and its possible implications here.