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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.

Submission + - How author James Baldwin trolled the FBI (

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.

Submission + - Pentagon's first bug bounty leads to new responsible disclosure policy (

v3rgEz writes: Between April 18 and May 12, over 1,400 attackers set their sights on the Pentagon, finding 138 security holes ranging from Cross-Site Scripting attacks to SQL injections. The attacks, part of the Department of Defense's first bug bounty program, were so successful the DOD decided to invite the hackers back and make it a regular event. It's also lead the DOD to decide on setting up a "responsible disclosure" policy, which a DOD official said would allow attackers to report flaws "without fear of prosecution" in the future.

Submission + - MuckRock crowdsourcing FOIA requests regarding CIA's Guatemala coup help (

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."

Submission + - State Department to release Clinton TPP records ... on date that doesn't exist ( 1

v3rgEz writes: Last July, reporter David Sirota filed a FOIA with the State Department for all communications sent by Hillary Clinton referencing the Trans Pacific Partnership. After an initial estimate that records would be ready for release by April 30th, 2016, just last week the agency wrote that due to unavoidable delays, that would have to be revised ... to November 31st, a date that is not only after the election, but which doesn't actually exist.

Submission + - State Department to release Clinton records on date that doesn't exist (

v3rgEz writes: Last July, International Business Times reporter David Sirota filed a FOIA with the State Department for all communications sent by Hillary Clinton referencing the Trans Pacific Partnership.

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.

Submission + - The NSA's delightfully D&D-inspired guide to the Internet (

v3rgEz writes: In 2007, two NSA employees put together “Untangling the Web,” the agencies official guide to scouring the World Wide Web. The 651-page guide cites Borges, Frued, and Ovid — and that’s just in the preface. MuckRock obtained a copy of the guide under an NSA Freedom of Information request, and has a write up of all the guide's amazing best parts.

Submission + - Utility metering vendor sues MuckRock for posting public docs on vulnerabilities ( 1

v3rgEz writes: Landis+Gyr, a multinational "smart meter" vendor owned by Toshiba, is suing public records news site MuckRock for posting documents received under a public records request that show the company failed to follow internal guidelines on physical access to metering data as well as other security procedures. The suit demands the immediate removal of the documents, which are currently posted on the website for anyone to download. The company is also demanding that the news site provide the identities of anyone who read the documents, which MuckRock has stated it won't due, even if it could.

Submission + - MuckRock and LilSis launch campaign to track how police monitor social media (

v3rgEz writes: Wondering if the last thing you shared on Facebook might get you on a watch list? Find yourself thinking twice before retweeting? You're not alone, and you might have good reasons: Increasingly, local police departments are tracking social media usage and monitoring individuals based on what they say, the pictures they post, and even the pages they like. FOIA site MuckRock and influence tracker LilSis have teamed up to launch a new project that helps uncover which police departments are monitoring social media, what their policies are, and more. Check out the project here, and if you're interested file a request of your own.

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