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Submission + - Law and Order: SVU FCC Complaints (

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?

Submission + - GOTO Jail: FBI investigated bizarre BASIC program sent at Johnny Cash (

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.

Submission + - Psychic dogs and enlisted men: the military's research into ESP (

v3rgEz writes: Government research often pushes the boundaries between science and science fiction. Today, the proud bearer of that mantle is often DARPA, experimenting with robots, cybernetics, and more. But in the sixties, during the height of the Cold War, this research often went into more fantastical realms, even exploring whether ExtraSensory Perception (ESP) was possible. Thanks to FOIA, MuckRock looks back on the paranormal history of American surveillance.

Submission + - The story behind National Reconnaissance Office's octopus logo (

v3rgEz writes: When the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced the upcoming launch of their NROL-39 mission back in December 2013, they didn't get quite the response they hoped. That might have had something to do with the mission logo being a gigantic octopus devouring the Earth. Researcher Runa Sandvik wanted to know who approved this and why, so she filed a Freedom of Information Act with the NRO for the development materials that went into the logo. A few months later, the NRO delivered.

Submission + - The heavily redacted world of the FBI's Tracking Technology Unit (

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.

Submission + - The FBI feared communist infiltration of EPCOT (

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.

Submission + - ATF puts up surveillance cameras around Seattle ... to catch illegal grease dump (

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.

Submission + - New Jersey rejects request for dolphin necropsy results, cites "medical privacy" ( 1

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.

Submission + - Talking with Javier Soltero, the outsider Microsoft tapped to reinvent Outlook (

v3rgEz writes: In a wide ranging interview, IT Pro talks with Microsoft's Javier Soltero about his plans to help Redmond get its groove back when it comes to email, walking a fine line between keeping traditional Outlook users (and IT administrators) happy while radically reworking software that hasn't seen a huge shakeup since 2003.

Submission + - The Paradox of Grey Hat Hackers (

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?

Submission + - FOIA'd documents give tour of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (

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?

Submission + - DOJ Cracking Down On Profit-Driven Policing, Audit Looks at How Far It's Spread (

v3rgEz writes: Federal civil rights officials at the Department of Justice are launching an effort to combat widespread constitutional abuses in U.S. courts in the hope of ending budget-driven policies that cripple those unable to afford fines and fees for minor offenses, the Huffington Post reports. The DOJ's focus on court fees and bail practices follows the Ferguson report which found officials had colluded to raise revenue when they hit residents with exorbitantly high fines and fees, regardless of their ability to pay, and jailed people to extract the money. The Sunlight Foundation and MuckRock recently launched an audit to see how widely the practice has spread.

Submission + - Sunlight Foundation crowdfunding look into abusive fines by police (

v3rgEz writes: The Sunlight Foundation is crowdfunding a look into how local police departments are using fines and fees to create a new "Debtor's Prison" for many Americans. Abusive fines was cited as one of the many problems in Ferguson, but there's no comprehensive data on how big a problem this tactic is nationally. The Sunlight Foundation, partnering with FOIA site MuckRock, wants to change that, and raising $5,000 would help provide data and analysis on over 100 cities across America. Read more about the project, or chip in a little bit for transparency. It's a pretty transparency bargain for Cyber Monday.

Submission + - Happy 30th Birthday, Windows!

v3rgEz writes: And what a ride it's been. Today marks the 30th anniversary since the debut of Windows 1.01, the first commercial release of Windows. At the time, it was derided as being slow, buggy, and clunky, but since then ... Well, it looks a lot better. .The Verge has a pictorial history of Windows through the years. What's your fondest memory of Bill Gates Blue Screen-of-death that could?

Submission + - The famous authors FOIA offices around the U.S. write like (

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 ...

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