Using records to inspect your snacks, understand Chicago surveillance, and following the money in law school gifts
Public records helped tell some important stories this week, ranging from the hidden dangers of the food we eat to the data that increasingly shapes our lives. Here’s some inspiration for your own transparency fight.
This spring, private biometric intelligence company BI2 Technologies entered into an agreement with a law enforcement faction known as the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition. The partnership promised that BI2 would donate and integrate biometric identification devices and systems into sheriff departments along the U.S. and Mexico border.
MuckRock asked all 50 states for a copy of the data frame that they use to track pregnancy-related deaths, in order to figure out if every department is using a similar system, or even tracking the same information. Spoiler alert: they’re all doing their own thing.
Search through 50,000 emails from the Assassination Records Review Board that tell the hidden story of the JFK files
When much of the JFK files were released on October 26th, over 50 thousand emails from the Assassination Records Review Board, an independent agency to re-examine for release the assassination-related records, were separately released and largely overlooked. These emails show a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the ARRB, the review and release process, and provide new insight into how our history came to be written.
In August of 1971, the White House directed the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct a “crash study of intelligence leaks” that had appeared in the press since the beginning of the Nixon Administration on January 20, 1969. That study resulted in a new proposal - an Agency created and maintained database of past and present leaks to help track their damage and identify the leakers. While ultimately successful, the creation of the database raised some unexpected questions for CIA, such as who should be responsible for it, what counted as a leak, and did the Agency care?