April Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

April 30, 2010

The April issue of the AALL Washington E-Bulletin features several updates about our policy programs in Denver, including a reminder to register by June 8 for the full-day Creative Commons workshop, sponsored by the Copyright Committee. This month’s E-Bulletin also includes a progress report on several bills AALL strongly supports, links to two new Case Studies in our Advocacy Toolkit that describe recent successes at the state level, and summaries of a few interesting reports for your reading pleasure!

Here is the Table of Contents:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS—HOPE TO SEE YOU IN DENVER!

• Your Guide to AALL’s Annual Meeting Policy Programs Now Available
• Workshop Spotlight: Learn How to Implement Creative Commons Licenses for Your Library  (W4)
• Reminder: Register Today for 2010 Advocacy Training, Raising the Bar in Your State

UPDATES FROM THE HILL AND THE GOVERNMENT RELATIONS OFFICE

• April Legislative Update
• Senate and House Judiciary Committee Chairmen Urge Department of Justice to Take Action on USA PATRIOT Act Provisions
• New Office of Government Information Service  Enhances Web  Collections of FOIA Resources

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: CHAPTER NEWS

• SEAALL Program Highlights Importance of Chapter Advocacy
• New Case Studies Describe Recent Successes at State Level
• NOCALL Holds Advocacy Training during Spring Institute

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading for the Information Policy Junkie

• Memos Reveal Failure to Preserve Emails Contradicted DOJ’s Email Retention Policy
• Pew Report Examines How People Use Government Information Online
• Congressional Management Foundations Releases Gold Mouse Awards on the State of Congressional Web Sites

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


House Launches New Web Site with Video of Proceedings

April 27, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ( D-CA- 8 ) announced yesterday a new Web site launched by the Clerk of the House, HouseLive.gov, which offers streaming and downloadable video feeds of all House floor proceedings. The site features live video and a searchable archive for the 111th Congress, indexed along with the legislative floor proceeding summary so that users can more easily find specific video segments. The Web site also includes a section where you can view video of special events, including joint meetings and joint sessions, such as the State of the Union.

The site also offers audio and video RSS feeds and allows you to create your own custom RSS feed by keyword. These tools are exciting features that will greatly enhance the usefulness of the video streaming.

While improvements could be made to improve searching and integration of the text with the video, this is a positive step forward in bringing greater sunshine to the workings of the House.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


New Report Highlights Continued Problems with Classification System

April 22, 2010

Last week, the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), a component of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), released their annual report on security classification programs, as required by President Obama’s December 2009 Executive Order on classified national security information. The E.O. requires agencies to take a number of actions to improve their classification procedures, and it establishes a National Declassification Center within NARA that will help reduce the backlog of declassified records.

The ISOO report highlights a number of troubling trends. For example, the number of pages declassified in FY 2009 dropped by 8 percent (from 31.4 million pages in FY 2008 to 28.8 million pages in FY 2009), despite a 1 percent increase in the number of pages reviewed for declassification. Agencies also reported a total of 54.7 million derivative classification actions for FY 2009, a 135 percent increase from FY 2008. However, this increase is largely attributed to improved reporting practices that now require agencies to count email and other electronic products when reporting their classification decisions.

One of the most encouraging findings of the report is that agencies currently have the lowest number ever reported of staff who are charged with classifying information. This improvement from previous years is mostly due to the drop in original classifiers at the Department of State, which took taking swift action to decrease the number of staff who can classify information.

Despite President Obama’s commitment to transparency, most classifying agencies clearly have a long way to go to shift away from a deeply embedded culture of secrecy. To read more about recent developments and pending bills that impact classification policy, please read our Issue Brief.


Agencies Release Open Government Plans, Assessments Begin

April 12, 2010

Meeting a major milestone of the Open Government Directive (OGD), on April 7 all 29 agencies covered by the OGD, plus several agencies not covered by the Directive, released their Open Government Plans for public comment. The plans can be found on the agencies’ Open Government Web pages, which are linked to from the White House’s Open Government Dashboard.

In order to evaluate the plans, OpenTheGovernment.org is coordinating a review that will give each agency an overall score for how well it meets the criteria laid out in the OGD. Members of AALL’s Government Relations Committee are evaluating the Department of Justice’s Open Government Plan and the Association will be submitting an assessment on how well the DOJ plan meets the stated requirements.

In addition, OpenTheGovernment.org is asking individuals to provide feedback on any of the agency plans. We encourage you to take a few minutes to comment on the plan of any agency that may be of special interest to you. These comments are intended to highlight any part of the plan you think is impressive, and to make concrete suggestions on how the agency could improve its plan. This is a special opportunity to provide your thoughts on how well agencies’ proposals follow through on the OGD’s requirement to develop a roadmap to improve transparency, participation and collaboration.

AALL is carefully monitoring agencies’ progress to ensure that they meet the baseline requirements described in the OGD. We will keep you updated as the assessments are completed.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Federal Appeals Court Rules against FCC on Net Neutrality

April 6, 2010

In a very disappointing decision today from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may not prevent broadband providers from discriminating against certain types of Internet traffic. This is a significant setback for the FCC, which only recently released its ambitious National Broadband Plan to ensure that every American has access to high-speed Internet. President Obama has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to protecting net neutrality as well.

In 2007, the FCC ordered the Comcast Corporation to stop blocking subscribers from accessing BitTorrent, a free, open source peer-to-peer file-sharing application, on the grounds that Comcast was violating the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement FCC 05-151 on broadband Internet access. Comcast initially complied with the Order, but later petitioned for review.

Because the FCC has no express statutory authority to regulate an Internet service provider’s network management practices, the agency needed to prove that barring Comcast from blocking access to BitTorrent was “reasonably ancillary to the…effective performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities.” The Court found that the FCC failed to make this showing.

Markham Erickson, Executive Director of the Open Internet Coalition of which AALL is a member, said today, “The Court’s sweeping decision eliminates the Agency’s power to either enforce the Internet Policy Statement or possibly to promulgate new open Internet rules to protect consumers and small businesses under Title I. As a result, the FCC is now unable to police the Internet against anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior by broadband providers, and may not be able to implement many of the elements of the National Broadband Plan.”

As explained in our Network Neutrality Issue Brief, net neutrality is very important to AALL because law librarians are providers, creators and users of digital information. Without net neutrality, law libraries may not be able to afford the necessary fees for access to the “fast lane,” preventing their users from having a consistent and reliable way of accessing important online legal information.

The Government Relations Office will continue to monitor this important issue and keep you updated as developments occur.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


March Issue of the Washington E-Bulletin

April 1, 2010

The March issue of the Washington E-Bulletin includes a wrap-up of this year’s very busy Sunshine Week, with a close look at the latest developments on FOIA and the successful Sunshine Week Webcast. In addition to our policy updates, we think you’ll also be interested in a summary of NOCALL’s Sunshine Week program, an update on the Connecticut courthouse library closures, and a report on two bills that LLAM is tracking that would end the print distribution of county codes. Here is the Table of Contents:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

• Advocacy Training Agenda Now Available – Register Today!

UPDATES FROM THE HILL AND THE GOVERNMENT RELATIONS OFFICE

• Sunshine Week Spotlight on FOIA
• OpenTheGovernment.org and AALL Host Successful Sunshine Week Webcast
• House Passes Bill to Ensure Preservation of Electronic Communications
• Sen. Lieberman Sends Letter in Support of FY 2011 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill
• U.S. Supreme Court Launches New Web Site
• Federal Communications Commission Releases National Broadband Plan

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: CHAPTER NEWS

• NOCALL  Sacramento Hosts Local Sunshine Week Program
• Update  on Connecticut Courthouse Library Closures
• LLAM Tracks Bills to End Print Distribution of County Codes

FREE TIME WELL SPENT: Further Reading for the Information Policy Junkie

• Federal Judicial Center’s Report on National Security Case Studies
• Timely Law Review Articles on State Secrets Privilege
• CRS Report on Congressional Oversight
• New Title Added to LLSDC Source Book, “Sources for Finding Mandated Reports to Congress by U.S. Federal Agencies”
• C-SPAN Launches New Searchable Archive with 23 Years of Video Online
• Federal Computer Week’s Featured 100 Federal IT Winners

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


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