News

Format: 2014-10-25
Format: 2014-10-25
October 24, 2014
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has joined a letter sent by 50 transparency and open government organizations to President Obama asking for his position on legislative reform to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Citing the President’s day-one commitment to transparency, the letter points out that there remain “many challenges in fulfilling” that goal. “FOIA remains one of the most effective tools for the public to know what its government is up to,” the letter states, but “changing agency practices under that statute to meet your transparency goals has been especially challenging.” Accordingly, the letter identifies six core components of FOIA reform that must be legislatively mandated to ensure realization of the President’s stated open government goals:
October 21, 2014
Last month, Google and Apple both announced that their next mobile operating systems would encrypt user data by default. Both Google and Apple also noted that the new forms of encryption would make it impossible for the companies to "unlock" encrypted phones, including in order to comply with lawful search warrants. These announcements have prompted officials to express concern about the risk that encryption will interfere with government's ability to investigate crime.
October 16, 2014
In what appears to be an unprecedented decision, a New York trial court has allowed the New York Police Department (“NYPD”) to issue a “Glomar” response to a state open records request, meaning the government refuses to confirm or deny whether responsive records exist. The decision appears to be the first time that a court anwhere in the U.S. has upheld the use of such a tactic by a state agency. The Glomar response has historically been used only with regard to requests made to federal agencies that involve sensitive matters of national security.
October 9, 2014
Multiple news media organizations have filed formal complaints with the Missouri Attorney General over the high fees charged by the city of Ferguson in response to public records requests. The complaints come after reports of journalists being asked to pay up to $2,000 in advance to search through and copy emails and text messages. Thus far, complaints have been filed by the Associated Press, CNN, St. Louis Public Radio, and the Radio Television Digital News Association.
October 8, 2014
A controversial proposal to restrict wilderness photography and regulate commercial filming was never intended to require newsgatherers to obtain permits, according to the U.S. Forest Service. But the wording of the regulation will need to be changed to satisfy the concerns of a media coalition that has protested the policy. The agency's director and spokesperson both said the service intends to allow for a wide interpretation of newsgathering, which is exempt from the permit process, that extends far beyond the narrow definition of "breaking news" that appears in the directive.
October 6, 2014
A new policy established by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will severely restrict the media’s ability to witness state executions. The new rules, which went into effect September 30, cut the number of media witnesses at any given execution from 12 to five, and give state officials discretion to close the viewing room or remove witnesses from the facility altogether if the condemned remains conscious five minutes into the lethal injection procedure.
October 2, 2014
The Washington Times has settled a lawsuit it brought with former reporter Audrey Hudson against the Department of Homeland Security, whose Coast Guard Investigative Service improperly seized notes and papers of Hudson’s during a 2013 raid on her home.
August 28, 2014
The publisher of The Intercept earlier this week called on the Missouri attorney general to launch an investigation into the arrest of reporter, Ryan Devereaux, during last week's protests in Ferguson, Mo. First Look Media detailed how Devereaux, while with a reporter from the German newspaper Bild, was interviewing protesters when police started firing tear gas. After leaving the area as instructed, he was hit by rubber bullets fired by police. He was taken to jail, detained overnight and charged with "refusing to disperse." The publisher has not been able to obtain information about the status of the charges against him and police have not returned their calls, the Aug. 25 letter reports.
August 14, 2014
More than 100,000 people, including 20 Pulitzer Prize winners, signed a petition submitted to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder today urging the administration to rethink its policy of subpoenaing journalists to reveal their sources. Seven representatives of free press organizations announced the delivery of the petition at the National Press Club this afternoon and called on the administration to drop its threatened subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen. Risen has been fighting since 2007 to protect a confidential source he used in writing a book about the Central Intelligence Agency, and he joined the panel at the press conference today.
July 28, 2014
The Texas Ethics Commission fined the head of a conservative advocacy group for failing to register as a lobbyist, but the organization’s leader argues that he should not have to pay because he runs a media organization. Michael Quinn Sullivan is president of Empower Texans, which provides news and information to promote fiscal responsibility in the state government. In June, the ethics commission fined Sullivan $10,000 after finding that he is a paid lobbyist who failed to register in 2010 and 2011. Sullivan plans to file an appeal in state court, said his attorney, Joseph Nixon of Beirne, Maynard & Parsons. The commission explained that even if Sullivan performs some journalistic activities he does not qualify for the lobbyist registration statute's media exception because he does other work as well.
July 25, 2014
A Tehran-based Washington Post reporter and others have been arrested in Iran on unspecified charges. Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, director general of the Tehran Province Justice Department, confirmed Friday that a Washington Post correspondent and his wife, who is also a reporter, had been detained for questioning.
July 23, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court prevented an Arizona death row inmate from delaying his execution date in order to receive information on the drugs to be used in his execution. The denial overturns a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) that ruled capital prisoner Joseph Wood’s requests for information on the drugs the state planned to use to execute him had sufficient merit to delay his execution, scheduled for Wednesday. The state of Arizona asked the full Ninth Circuit court to review the panel's decision, but the circuit court refused Monday to hear it in front of its full 11-judge panel. The state then took its appeal to the Supreme Court, which also refused to hear the appeal but did lift the Ninth Circuit stay to allow Wood’s execution to go forward.
July 21, 2014
The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) granted a death row inmate a delay in execution so he could receive information about his execution protocol, marking the first time a federal appeals court indicated there might be a right to know details about the drugs used in an execution. On Saturday, the divided three-judge panel reversed a U.S. District Court of Arizona decision that denied Joseph Wood the right to know the credentials of his executioners and the source of the drugs to be used on him. The decision came four days before his scheduled execution. The appeals court held that Wood’s questions about the drugs and executioners held merit, while there was little evidence for the state’s concerns that publicly identifying the drug manufacturer and administrators would interfere with the execution process.
July 17, 2014
The Supreme Court of Hawaii this week in Oahu Publications Inc. v. The Honorable Karen Ahn upheld a strong public right of access to criminal proceedings and announced a series of procedures to protect that right. The ruling comes after a trial court judge held five secret sessions and sealed the transcripts of those sessions during a high-profile murder trial. The decision stressed that judicial proceedings are presumptively open. The high court held that, in order to close a courtroom or seal transcripts, a judge must show on the record what compelling interest would be harmed by public disclosure, the substantial risk to that harm, and any alternatives to public access that the court considered but found insufficiently protective.
July 14, 2014
Last week the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that while NBCUniversal reporters did not violate anyone’s Fourth Amendment rights creating the 2008 Dateline segment titled “Tricks of the Trade,” a lower court will have to review the originally dismissed defamation claims made by an insurance broker featured in the piece. Tyrone M. Clark and his company, Brokers’ Choice of America, initially sued NBC over video clips recorded with a hidden camera by Dateline crew members during an insurance brokers’ seminar in Colorado located on BCA property. The reporters worked with Alabama law enforcement to gain access to the event since it was only open to licensed insurance agents, which Clark and BCA claimed to be a Fourth Amendment violation of the company’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures.