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Submission + - Virginia spent over half a million on cell surveillance that mostly doesn't work (

v3rgEz writes: In 2014, the Virginia State Police spent $585,265 on a specially modified Suburban outfitted with the latest and greatest in cell phone surveillance: The DRT 1183C, affectionately known as the DRTbox. But according to logs uncovered by public records website MuckRock, the pricey ride was only used 12 times — and only worked 7 of those times. Read the full DRTbox documents at MuckRock.

Submission + - A FOIA guide the Trump Presidential Transition (

v3rgEz writes: With Donald Trump now President Elect of the United States, the time to demand transparency is now. The FOIA non-profit MuckRock put together a guide on what you can FOIA from the Trump administration — even before he takes office. In fact, users of the site have already filed dozens of requests about Trump which you can browse now.

Submission + - A Hall of Fame for the more dubious cases the FBI's investigated over the years (

v3rgEz writes: As the election has been thrown into disarray thanks to the FBI releasing that it is reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton-adjacent emails, it's logical to wonder just exactly what an open investigation by the FBI means, in terms of how serious to take it. The answer: The bar can be pretty low. Like the time the FBI spent years investigating a fictional anti-goth cult.

The FOIA filers at MuckRock looked at some of the more dubious cases the Bureau's top men have cracked over the years.

Submission + - SPAM: After incriminating emails released, Baltimore PD changes policy - to charge mor

v3rgEz writes: After incriminating emails, including some disparaging sexual assault victims, came out through a DOJ investigation and public records requests, it looks like Baltimore Police Department is taking proactive steps to prevent more embarrassing releases in the future. In a new policy, the department assesses a $50 "email search fee" on top of regular request fees.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - MuckRock mapping creepy clown sitings around US — and FOIA'ing police repo (

v3rgEz writes: As creepy clown sightings continue around the country, there's still a distinct lack of answers around "why." FOIA site MuckRock hopes to get to the heart of the matter, asking readers to submit news reports of clown sighting in their town. The public records non-profit will then file requests for related police reports, hopefully getting to the bottom of where all the creepy clowns are coming from.

Submission + - The FBI's years-long investigation into a fictional anti-goth cult (

v3rgEz writes: In 2005, the FBI launched an investigation into the “Church of the Hammer,” a fundamentalist Christian sect which called for the wholesale slaughter of practitioners of the goth subculture. Two years later, the investigation was closed, on grounds that the Church didn’t exist. Here's the story behind that investigation into the anti-goth cult that never was.

Submission + - Inside the NSA's cybersecurity summer camp (

v3rgEz writes: It's fair to say that after the Edward Snowden leaks, the National Security Agency (NSA) has had a bit of an image problem, which in turn has affected recruiting efforts. So what is the NSA doing to combat all this bad PR? Summer camps. And FOIA site MuckRock has filed FOIA requests to find out exactly what is going on at those camps, turning up a range of activities from pen testing and social engineering training to, er, the NSA's own "Kobayashi Maru." Read the full documents at MuckRock.

Submission + - Free FOIA help for those investigating Peter Thiel (

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.

Submission + - Russia Fines Google $6.75 Million Over Android Mobile Dominance (

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.

Submission + - During World War II, scientists attempted to turn sharks into living torpedoes (

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.

Submission + - SPAM: Hoover Shrugged: Ayn Rand's one-sided love affair with the FBI

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

Submission + - When Homeland Security went to Walmart (

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.

Submission + - WSJ reporter has phones seized by DHS at border (

v3rgEz writes: A Wall Street Journal reporter has shared her experienced of having her phones forcefully taken at the border — and how DHS insists that your right to privacy does not exist when reentering the United States. Indeed, she's not alone: Documents previously released under FOIA show that the DHS has a long standing policy of warrantless (and even motiveless) seizures at the border, essentially removing any traveler's right to privacy.

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