v3rgEz writes: For almost a decade, Peter Thiel secretly waged a war that took down Gawker. What other secrets is he hiding, particularly in his secretive ventures that range from mass surveillance startup Palantir to his adventures in seasteading? If you'd like to help find out, MuckRock is offering what it's dubbed a "Thiel Fellowship" offering free FOIA help for projects that investigate companies and initiatives connected to the eccentric but influential billionaire.
v3rgEz writes: Russia’s national regulator fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google 438 million rubles ($6.75 million) for violating antitrust rules on tablets and mobile phones, after reviewing a complaint filed by local search engine Yandex NV last year.
The fine was determined as a share of Google Play’s domestic sales, a Federal Anti-Monopoly Service representative said. Local rules stipulate that fines represent 1 percent to 15 percent of a violator’s revenue for 2014, the official said, without elaborating on the exact figure.
v3rgEz writes: Documents recently declassified show one of the odder experimental weapons developed during World War II: Weaponized sharks. Guided by sharp electric shocks, the sharks were trained to deliver explosive payloads — essentially turning them into living, breathing, remote-controlled torpedoes that could be put to use in the Pacific Theater.
v3rgEz writes: When novelist Ayn Rand found out that FBI director J Edgar Hoover was an adherent of her Objectivist philosophy, she was thrilled, and immediately tried to set up a personal meeting. There was just one problem: Hoover had no idea what she was talking about. MuckRock recently obtained Ayn Rand's FBI file, and it includes almost no surveillance but several attempts by the Objectivist philosopher to ingratiate herself with government bureaucrats. Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes: In 2010, America's third largest government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, joined forces with its largest corporation, Walmart, to fight terrorism. What could possibly go wrong? It turns out, according to a recent FOIA posted on MuckRock, a whole lot, from lingering sexual harassment scandals to amazingly on-point, if unintentional, Orwellian imagery. Read the documents here.
v3rgEz writes: What's a guy supposed to do when the FBI starts tracking his movements, monitoring what he writes, and generally making life a little harder just for thinking out loud? In noted author James Baldwin's case, give them something to talk about: In recently FOIA'd documents, files on the celebrated African-American playwright show that he apparently leaked out that he was working on a book about the FBI — a book he never appeared to actually intend to write. The FBI dutifully freaked out about the very idea of the book.
v3rgEz writes: Looking to get a better sense of American adventurism overseas? Want to play a part in uncovering international intrigue? FOIA non-profit MuckRock is crowdsourcing requests to dig into the CIA's files on Guatemala. One of the site's users recently uncovered a 227-page index of files, and the site is allowing free filing of requests in order to help make the most interesting of the files publicly available. Titles are tantalizing, including gems like "Shipment of Foreign Arms Stored at [DELETED] Location" to "Guatemalan Officers Stalling on Ultimatum."
An initial estimate had the records be ready for release by April 2016, but since then the release date slipped, then slipped again, to not only a date beyond the election, but to a date that doesn't actually exist: November 31st, 2016.
Perhaps we'd understand what was going on better, except that a FOIA request to the State Department for their date estimation methodology filed in 2013 is still awaiting response, having had its own estimated completion date moved back six times.
v3rgEz writes: MuckRock recently released copies of the Department of Justice's files on document leak site Crytptome, after user Martin Peck filed a number of requests for them. The largest release of files comes from the Office of Professional Responsibility which includes a lot of processing notes, heavy redactions... and a very strangely redacted smiley face on a PostIt note.