Every week, MuckRock brings to you this roundup of transparency and accountability battles, threats and wins. Have you recently read a news story about why government transparency—or a lack of it—matters? Let us know, and maybe we can include it in our next round-up!
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Who’s stealing our faces, what are they doing with them and now…are they lying?
Inspired by records released to MuckRock and Open the Government, The New York Times recently released an investigation into Clearview AI, a secretive facial recognition company with more than 3 billion images in its database used by hundreds of police departments.
BuzzFeed followed up with this story based on their own record requests, where the NYPD disses Clearview’s claims that the department used Clearview to identify a terrorism suspect last year. Clearview pushed the NYPD suspect ID story to sell their software to police departments across the country. BuzzFeed also more fully explores the ties between Clearview’s investors and white nationalism. Yikes and Yikes.
Read more about how we made this story possible here, add your city to our open Assignment, and we will request the documents on how your local police department is using facial recognition technology.
So you want even MORE police data?
Ukraine records have a star turn in Senate impeachment proceedings
A nesting doll of secrecy attempts; keep the Ukraine emails secret to keep the decision to hold back Ukraine aid secret to keep the motivations behind that decision secret…on and on…is getting plenty of play in Senate proceedings leading up to an impeachment trial of President Trump but most of what was in those documents, still secret.
Share your support for a full release of these documents by signing on with us and the Center for Public Integrity, which did received heavily-redacted versions of the records.
The future of the FOIA roundup
Each week, we release this collection of public records stories, and in the future, we’d like to make it a newsletter to be delivered right to your inbox. Is this something you’d like to see? Are there types of FOI news you want included? Shoot us a quick note and let us know what you think!
Win some, lose some Chicago PD: A Cook County judge had ordered CPD to release almost 50 years’ worth of Chicago PD misconduct records, the result of a Freedom of Information Act request the city denied. Meanwhile, the police union is fighting to have misconduct records older than five years destroyed, and the Illinois Supreme Court will likely take that case up in the spring.
If you are in Gallatin County, Montana requesting records might cost you more. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, reports county commissioners voted to allow for recouping some search time costs and set a new standard for copies of $0.25 per page.
If you want text messages from Councilors in Jacksonville, Florida watch this space. An Inspector General says those folks have to establish guidelines for how they will use-and keep-text messages.
Local open records tea
Fred Obee, executive director of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, opposes HB 1888, which would shield state employees’ birth dates from disclosure.
The Star-Ledger urges the New Jersey State legislature to update the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), which hasn’t been revised since 2002, but the municipal employee representing League of Municipalities, wants a rollback of the “fee shift” part of the law that says when an agency is found to have broken the law they have to pay the lawyer from the other side.
Image courtesy of the National Science Foundation