Access to Gov't Information

Cash Cutoff for Mugshot Sites A Dangerous Idea

If you're arrested, your arrest is public information: your name, your address, what you're accused of. Many news organizations publish this information on a daily basis for their communities, as part of their news coverage.

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Metadata Surveillance, Secrecy, and Political Liberty (Part Two)

(This is the second part of a two-part post. In Part One, Bryce Newell examined the implications of government collection and analysis of metadata relating to electronic communications. Today, Bryce picks up from where he left off, considering the implications of government surveillance under different conceptions of freedom.)

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Metadata Surveillance, Secrecy, and Political Liberty (Part One)

(Following on from Rebekah Bradway's post last week regarding government-created metadata as public records, we are pleased to present a two-part post from Bryce Newell on the role of metadata in government surveillance. -- Ed.)

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Metadata as a Public Record: What it Means, What it Does

The failure to comply with a records request for email metadata will cost a Washington city more than half a million dollars in statutory and attorney's fees, a Washington Superior Court judge recently decided.

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911, What's Your Emergency? Public Access to 911 Calls in California and Maine

PhoneAs California delays public access to prank celebrity 911 phone call records, a court in Maine has kicked things up a notch, pulling from one of over 500 exceptions to Maine's Freedom of Access Act (“FOAA”) to block public access to a 911 record in connection with an ongoing criminal trial.

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"Newsgathering in Massachusetts" Guide Now Available Online!

The Journal News Fallout: Limiting the First Amendment to Protect the Second

Are Rights of Publicity the Fatal Flaw of the Mugshot Racket?

Before the holidays, Wired reported the filing of a putative class action in Ohio against a group of privately owned websites that allegedly collect and publish mugshot photos, and then charge those whose photos appear exorbitant amounts to have the photos removed.

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The 'Mugshot Racket' II: A Commercial Purpose Exemption?

When Tim Donnelly, a 26-year-old job seeker, Googled his name recently he found that the first link provided was that to a mugshot of him taken seven years ago. He got into a fight as a teenager and was arrested for criminal trespass and assault. According to Donnelly, the trespass charge was dismissed and the assault charge was downgraded to disorderly conduct.

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Privacy v. Public Access in the Emerald City

For the past few years here in Seattle, a fascinating debate has been brewing about the balance between government transparency and citizens' privacy, particularly at the intersection of the state Public Records Act and the state Privacy Act.

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Policing Political Speech or Just Sex Under the Magnolia Tree?

In response to local Occupy protests, Tennessee Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said in October that “we don’t have the resources to go out and, in effect, babysit protesters.” But as the Nashville Scene recently reported, that’s exactly what pol

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Health Reporters Unite! How One Doctor's Complaint Turned a Public Database Private

Kansas City Star reporter Alan Bavley had a hunch. After years of investigating the health care industry, Bavley began to suspect that state medical boards did not adequately discipline doctors who committed malpractice. Physicians battling substance abuse, for example, were punished far more harshly.

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The 'Mugshot Racket': Paying to Keep Public Records Less Public

It used to be that mugshots were kept well out of the view.  Despite being public records in many states, walls of bureaucracy and simple physical inaccessibility (due to the photos being locked in a police station somewhere) kept them largely out of the public eye.

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