v3rgEz writes: For 17 seasons, Dick Wolf and co. have captivated the nation with their sexual violence specialized Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, featuring stories of New York City’s elite squad investigate these "especially heinous" crimes. Considering the subject matter, it should come as no surprise that FCC complaints show viewers had a problem with SVU's... mild swears and racy commercials?
v3rgEz writes: Who has time to write out all the vaguely threatening conspiracies that need to be sent to celebrities these days? Turns out, that can be automated too: In 1979, the FBI investigated a bizarre, threatening Christmas message sent to Johnny Cash on the eve of his 62nd album's release. The threat included the source and output, which the FBI dutifully dusted for clues. New released documents show what would become the FBI's CyberCrime division.
v3rgEz writes: If you search the FBI website for details the Tracking Technology Unit, nothing shows up: They have no official home page, their leadership is not mentioned, and the few public mentions of the group seem to be at court appearances where members explain that information they gather cannot be released publicly. But a recent FOIA request for information on the FBI's shuttered warrantless GPS tracking program shed a little more light on this secretive unit, whose motto is "Factum Non Verba": Deeds, not Words.
v3rgEz writes: In 1981, Walt Disney World was getting ready to unveil a new gem in its crown of amusement parks, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT. Revolving around a massive sphere called "Spaceship Earth" and a lagoon that initially called for cultural installations from nine countries, EPCOT was intended to be the ultimate harmonious international village, a shining example of global unity. Naturally the FBI had a problem with it.
FOIA'd documents recently released to MuckRock show that as early as December 1979, almost three full years before the October 1, 1982 opening of EPCOT, the bureau was concerned with possible Soviet involvement in the endeavor. And even after Soviet involvement was ruled out, the FBI began to worry about Chinese influences.
v3rgEz writes: Last summer, Seattleites noticed that utility polls around town were showing some odd growths: A raft of surveillance cameras that, under Seattle's strict surveillance equipment laws, shouldn't have been there without disclosure and monitoring. But Seattle Police said that they weren't theirs, and one enterprising citizen followed up with a series of public records requests, only to discover that they were actually the ATF's cameras — on the watch for grease dumpers. Now the requester is fighting for the full list of federal surveillance watching over Seattle, and answers to how often federal agencies pursue what appear to be purely local crimes.
v3rgEz writes: When a dolphin died in New Jersey's South River last year, Carly Sitrin wanted to know what killed it. So she filed a public record request to the NJ Department of Agriculture for the necropsy results. Just this last week, the DOA finally responded, and to make an already weird story even weirder... barred the release of the record on grounds of medical privacy.
v3rgEz writes: Troy Hunt, a security researcher who tracked breached websites, reflects on the recent "grey hat" hacking of VTech, in which a hacker downloaded millions of kids' photos, chat logs, and more, to blow the whistle on a serious vulnerability. The attacker went way beyond responsible disclosure, offering the data directly to a reporter, but the ensuing publicity got VTech to clean up their act and maybe helped parents better understand the dangers of lax security. Is grey hat ok when it's done for the greater good?
v3rgEz writes: In the 1990s, during our nuclear disarmament initiative, the Congress preserved two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos as historic sites. The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (MMNHS) is one of them, and MuckRock used FOIA to take a tour of what's publicly on display, including a Domino's Themed Blast Door and probing questions guides are told to ask visitors, including, "Could you turn they key?" Well, could you?
v3rgEz writes: MuckRock took samples of FOIA responses from various federal agencies and ran it through a text analysis parser that finds which famous author they write most like. The responses, while probably useless for any practical purpose, are enlightening, pairing up the Bureau of Prisons with Stephen King and the Department of Interior with Edgar Allan Poe. But you'll never guess which agency could sub in for Cory Doctorow...