Foxes guard henhouse; blogs treated like MSM

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Dan Lovejoy has been all over this story: The Federal Department of Homeland Security has put veterans of some of the most invasive software and Internet companies in responsible positions overseeing the department's privacy issues. Nuala O'Connor Kelly, formerly Chief Privacy Officer for DoubleClick, is now Chief Privacy Officer for the Department of Homeland Security. And an executive from Claria (neé Gator) is on a Homeland Security privacy board. Many websurfers, myself included, installed Gator because it promised to help us more easily manage all the different usernames and passwords one acquires in the course of registering for this newspaper's website and that online banking service. It also would hijack your browser and pop up windows for its advertisers based on the site you were currently browsing. Dan reminds that Gator has been the subject of a number of lawsuits.

Dan has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out all he can. If the Cornyn-Leahy OPEN Government Act (S. 394) gets through Congress quickly enough, the FOIA request might not be too expensive:

"In making a determination of a representative of the news media under subclause (II), an agency may not deny that status solely on the basis of the absence of institutional associations of the requester, but shall consider the prior publication history of the requester. Prior publication history shall include books, magazine and newspaper articles, newsletters, television and radio broadcasts, and Internet publications. If the requestor has no prior publication history or current affiliation, the agency shall consider the requestor’s stated intent at the time the request is made to distribute information to a reasonably broad audience."

That means that blogs would qualify for the same reduced costs given traditional media. Texas Sen. John Cornyn (a Republican) made specific reference to blogs during his speech to the Senate introducing this bill:

The news media is of course the main way people get information about government.The media pushes government entities, and elected officials and bureaucrats and agencies to release information that the people have a right to know, occasionally exposing waste, fraud and abuse. And hopefully, more often than that, letting the American people know what a good job their public officials are doing. But we've also seen in recent years the expansion of other outlets for sharing information outside of the mainstream media – to online communities, discussion groups, and blogs.

I believe all these outlets can and do contribute to the health of our political democracy.But let me make this clear, Mr. President, this is not just a bill for the media, lest anybody be confused. This is a bill that will benefit every man, woman and child in America who cares about the federal government, cares about how the federal government operates, and ultimately cares about the success of this great democracy.

So there is reason to be encouraged that some folks in the Federal Government get it, even if the Department of Homeland Security doesn't... yet.

(Hat tip to Bob Cox of the National Debate for the link to Pajama Hadin's item on the OPEN Government Act.)


Dan said:

Thanks so much, Michael, for the link.

This is my first pajamahadeen jihad, other than periodic splenic vents about apostrophe abuse. When I get my FOIA bill, perhaps I will contact Senator Cornyn and ask him to give me a discount.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 27, 2005 9:29 PM.

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