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Comments

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Local police department refuses to disclose what weapons it owns

v3rgEz Re:Oh, really? (2 comments)

It varies greatly state to state, but most states have this as some form of public record.

1 year,11 days
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'Freedom of Information, Finally Made Easy' by MuckRock (Video)

v3rgEz Re:From the founder (43 comments)

Our service has two big fan groups: People who have never filed a request, and people who file a lot and would like help tracking. For either, if we can save them a half hour hunting for how to fill out the request, to remember to follow up, to sort out which documents went to which request, to figure out where to send the request, we think $4 is a fantastic value. If your time is worth less than that, hopefully we can serve as a good resource just for reference purposes.

Right now, we manually help people with the appeals process, and can recommend lawyers we've worked with in the past if it comes to a lawsuit. It's definitely the trickier part, but we recently launched a free question and answer tool (https://www.muckrock.com/questions/) in addition to our individual support. Hope that helps.

about a year ago
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'Freedom of Information, Finally Made Easy' by MuckRock (Video)

v3rgEz Re:From the founder (43 comments)

Processing all the requests and appeals across the federal government cost $412,647,829.53 in FY 2010: http://www.justice.gov/oip/foiapost/fy-2011-annual-report-summary.pdf We hope to reduce these costs by eliminating the need for duplicitous requests, since everything requested through MuckRock is eventually made public. The federal government also has a system for recouping fees from requesters.

about a year ago
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'Freedom of Information, Finally Made Easy' by MuckRock (Video)

v3rgEz From the founder (43 comments)

Michael here from MuckRock. Nobody else does what we do in the US for free. We lick the stamps, send the envelopes, scan the documents when they come back, and help post them. Hundreds of our users and thousands of our visitors find this to be a valuable service, but if you don't want to use us,we make that easy to: We've got thousands of request templates you can copy and paste for your own use, and a public database of agency contacts that's much more comprehensive than anything else we've seen. Any particular concerns we can address, please let me know. But for the record, over the past 3 years, we've spent about $30 on advertising, all on Google AdWords. Wasn't worth it.

about a year ago
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Covert BT Phorm Trial Report Leaked

v3rgEz Re:Loss of Common Carrier Exemption? (292 comments)

Absolutely, and you've come up with a great point. If they are scanning and replacing ads, then sure (since as you point out they lose common carrier status) they can scan a) warez b) pirated music/movies c) illegal porn d) libelous material, at least at some levels. By editing some material they substantially endanger their rights to distribute all material, per what I was taught in Intro to Internet Law (could be outdated by now) and ISP's won't have many customers if you can't download your mp3z.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Aereo has its (first) day before Supreme Court

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  10 hours ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Aereo, which streams broadcast TV over the Internet, devised a somewhat extreme hack to get around public performance and copyright law: Give each user their own antenna, creating thousands of individual "remote DVRs" for the masses. Predictably, broadcaster have freaked out, and now the Supreme Court has heard initial arguments to determine whether Aereo's model has any legal weight. Here's the full transcript (Warning: Big PDF). The court is expected to rule by the end of June."
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FBI says Russians out to steal technology from Boston firms, posing as VCs

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about two weeks ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "It sounds like a scare from 1970s Cold War propaganda or a subplot from the popular TV series “The Americans,” but the FBI says the threat is real: Russian investment firms may be looking to steal high-tech intelligence from Boston-area companies to give to their country’s military. Many of the firms under scrutiny are in the Boston area, including those partnered with a number of area biotech companies and with ties to MIT."
Link to Original Source
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New service lets you hitch a ride with private planes for cost of tank of gas

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about two weeks ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "A new service, Airpooler, matches pilots with passengers looking to head the same way. Since it's not an officially licensed charter service, prices are limited to roughly the passengers share of the gas, giving pilots a way to share the expense of enjoying the open blue and flyers a taste of their personal pilot."
Link to Original Source
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Drupal's Dries Buytaert: It's open-source software that'll eat the world

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about three weeks ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Drupal creator and Acquia co-founder Dries Buytaert said it's open source software that will "eat the world," pointing to Cloudera, MongoDB, and, yes, Acquia, but saying it's not the price point but the quality that's making the difference. “Our customers care about the fact that they can use the best technology, and that’s what we try to emphasize," he said. "The fact that open source is free is not really the main reason it gets adopted.""
Link to Original Source
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Founders open up on dealing with impression through pus and downs of a startup

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about three weeks ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Founders at a number of Boston startups shared their stories of building and growing a company while battling depression. One founder didn't even realize he was depressed until glucose and blood tests came back normal, while another said it was worse than her life struggles growing up in the projects.

All shared different coping mechanisms. Any advice from /. on dealing with the same?"

Link to Original Source
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After FOIA, Homeland Security releases social media monitoring guides

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about a month ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "With a Freedom of Information Act request, MuckRock has received copies of two of the guides Homeland Security uses to monitor social media, one on standard procedures and a desktop binder for analysts.

Now we're asking for help to go through it: See something worth digging into? Say something, and share it with others so we know what to FOIA next."
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This gadget is a bacon-scented alarm clock for your iPhone

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about a month and a half ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "If you’ve given up bacon for Lent, stop reading now. The same goes for people who don’t own a smartphone made by Apple Inc. But if you’ve got an iPhone and a love for “the candy of meat,” you might want to check out a new high-tech promotional gimmick from old-school meatpacker Oscar Meyer. The company, which is owned by Kraft Foods Group Inc., is giving away 4,700 gadgets that convert an iPhone into a bacon-scented alarm clock."
Link to Original Source
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A vast surveillance network runs across America, powered by repo men

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about a month and a half ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Even as some police departments curtail their sue of license plate scanning technology over privacy concerns, private companies have been amassing a much larger, almost completely unregulated database that pulls in billions of scans a year, marking the exact time and location of millions of vehicles across America. The database, which is often offered to law enforcement for free, is collected by repo and towing companies eager to tap easy revenue, while the database companies than resell that data, often for as little as $25 for a plate's complete recorded history."
Link to Original Source
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White House "privacy tour" a flop on its first leg at MIT

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about a month and a half ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "After the Snowden revelations, President Obama promised greater transparency on how the federal government collects and uses data on its citizens, including a three-leg "privacy tour" to discuss the balance between security and privacy. Well, the first leg of the tour is up and — surprise, surprise — it's not much of a conversation, with official dodging questions or, in one case, simply walking out of the conference."
Link to Original Source
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Feds now oppose Aereo, rejecting cloud apocalypse argument

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about a month and a half ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "TV streaming service Aereo expected broadcasters would put up a fight. The startup may not have seen the Justice Department as a threat, however. The Justice Department has now weighed in, saying in a filing that it’s siding with major broadcasters who accuse Aereo of stealing TV content. In its filing, the Justice Department noted it doesn’t believe a win for broadcasters would dismantle the precedent that created the cloud computing industry, as Aereo has previously claimed.

The case is expected to go before the Supreme Court in late April."
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This method is so acceptable, the DEA won't even release its name

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 3 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "In a slideshow released as part of a FOIA request to MuckRock, the DEA released slides outlining four legal methods of intelligence gathering "acceptable to the public." One of those methods, however, was so acceptable that the agency felt the need to redact what it was, calling it a confidential law enforcement technique. The other three methods which were released include the controversial FISA courts, the technique of parallel reconstruction, and the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), which bars the release of confidential information in court."
Link to Original Source
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DEA PowerPoint shows how agency hides investigative methods from trial review

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 3 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "CJ Ciaramella stumbled upon some recently interesting documents with a recent FOIA request: The DEA's training materials regarding parallel construction, the practice of reverse engineering the evidence chain to keep how the government actually knows something happened away from prosecutors, the defense, and the public.

  “Americans don’t like it," the materials note, when the government relies heavily on classified sources, so agents are encouraged to find ways to get the same information through tactics like "routine" traffic stops that coincidentally find the information agents are after.

Public blowback, along with greater criminal awareness, are cited among the reasons for keeping the actual methodologies beyond the reach of even the prosecutors working with the DEA on the cases."

Link to Original Source
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Startup out of MIT promises digital afterlife — just hand over your data

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 3 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "A new startup out of MIT offers early adopters a chance at the afterlife, of sorts: It promises to build an AI representation of the dearly departed based on chat logs, email, Facebook, and other digital exhaust generated over the years. “Eterni.me generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends after you pass away,” the team promises. But can a chat bot plus big data really produce anything beyond a creepy, awkward facsimile?"
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Boston suspends license plate scanners after numerous problems

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 4 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Data from more than 68,000 Boston Police Department automated license plate reader scans — a fraction of the total scans the department has performed since 2006 — show the department's program violated its own rules and failed to effectively follow up on leads that had been flagged dozens of times.

Ars Technica noted how these programs are catching on nationwide, often with underwhelming results.

The program's failing came to light after a public records request for the data, which has been posted online with license plate information redacted."

Link to Original Source
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Spooked by his Scifi, FBI looked into Isaac Asimov as possible communist tipster

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 6 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "By September 14, 1960, Isaac Asimov had been a professor of biochemistry Boston University for 11 years, and his acclaimed "I, Robot" collection of short stories was on its seventh reprint. This was also the day someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover.

They ominously concluded that “Asimov may be quite all right. On the other hand . . . . .”

The "tip off" wasn't given much credit, but it didn't matter since Asimov's science fiction writing alone was enough to warrant FBI monitoring, particularly as the FBI hunted for the mysterious ROBPROF, a communist informant embedded in American academia.

MuckRock has Isaac Asimov's FBI files in full, and a write up of the more interesting bits."

Link to Original Source
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Since Snowden leaks, NSA's FOIA requests are up 1,000 percent

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 7 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "A veritable FOIA frenzy ensued in 2013 following a series of leaks about NSA surveillance programs, recently released documents show.

From June 6 to September 4, the National Security Agency’s FOIA load increased 1,054 percent over its 2012 intake. In that three-month span, the agency received 3,382 public records requests. For comparison, the NSA received just 293 requests over the same period in 2012.

While a few have netted new details about NSA surveillance operations, such as a contract with French security firm VUPEN, the majority appear to have been rejected. MuckRock has a guide on filing with the NSA to maximize your chances of actually getting something back."

Link to Original Source
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Want to see Booz Allen's FBI contracts? Fork over $271,095

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 7 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "In most of America, you could probably buy a home for $270,000. Or, if you were a public documents wonk, you could get all of the 95,000 pages the FBI says may relate to its contracts with Booz Allen Hamilton over the last five years.

As part of a running look at outsourcing government work to Booz Allen Hamilton, MuckRock has already acquired thousands of pages of contracts with various agencies. A number of agencies, however, are requesting huge search fees simply to look at the contracts they have with one of America's largest service providers, Booz Allen Hamilton, including the Department of Labor ($1,500) and Homeland Security ($1,262).

That's still not the largest FOIA fee assessed though: Recently the Postal Service asked for $451,875 to hand over law enforcement tracking requests."
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NSA hired VUPEN, "Darth Vader of Cybersecurity," for 0-day exploit

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 7 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Documents requested by MuckRock from the National Security Agency show it had a contract with the French security researcher VUPEN whose founder and CEO Chaouki Bekrar puckishly touts himself as the "Darth Vader of Cybersecurity."

While the NSA redacted the price of the subscription, VUPEN is apparently hoping the year-long contract is a sign of things to come: It recently tweeted it was setting up shop in Maryland."
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Not the fax, ma'am: DoD out of cash to buy new machine, stymieing requests

v3rgEz v3rgEz writes  |  about 7 months ago

v3rgEz (125380) writes "Starting two weeks ago, requests faxed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) started coming back as undeliverable. After several subsequent attempts and troubleshooting, the culprit was found. Sure enough, their fax machine is down... possibly until November, when the new fiscal year begins and a new machine can be ordered."
Link to Original Source

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