The Party of Open: Open Government, Open Culture, Open Innovation & People First

Monthly archive: October 2013

What’s in Your File (Part I)

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During the last four months, we’ve seen a wealth of new information about government surveillance and data collection programs. Back in June, the Guardian published a National Security letter to Verizon; since then, new revelations have come out on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. US government agencies are collecting a lot of very detailed information about, well, everyone — so I am left wondering “what kind of information are they collecting about me?”. I think this is a reasonable question to ask: I am a US citizen, I pay taxes that fund government operations, and as far as I am concerned, the government is supposed to be working on my behalf. I think I have a right to know what they’re up to, particularly if it concerns me directly. In other words, I’d like to know what’s in my file. Fortunately, our laws provide ways for people to obtain such information. The main mechanisms are the Freedom of Information act (commonly known as FOIA), and for Massachusetts residents, the Massachusetts Public Records Law. I have several requests in progress, and I encourage others to make requests of their own. By sharing our experiences, we can collectively open government, and better understand the implications of these surveillance policies. My Humble FBI File (which may or may not exist) I decided to start by requesting my FBI file. The FBI’s web site has a series of pages describing how to make FOIA requests to the agency, including a sample FOIA request letter. I sent a FOIPA request to the FBI’s Winchester, VA office on October 7th, with the following description: I am requesting a copy of my FBI file, and I have enclosed a completed copy of the Department of Justice Certification of Identity form. Please search the FBI’s indices to … Read more

published under Main Topic, Secrecy, Transparency | Comments Off on What’s in Your File (Part I)

The 3rd Digital Media Conference: Freedom and Unfreedom in the Digital Age

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The 3rd Digital Media Conference: Freedom and Unfreedom in the Digital Age begins October 25th at 7 pm, and runs all weekend until October 27th at 4pm. We are very are excited this year as Steve Revilak, our Quartermaster, will run a Cryptoparty on securing our email and browsing (slides). Fellow freedom and privacy activists Gregg Housh and Kade Crockford, Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, will be speaking as well. We are looking for pirates to help out at the conference. Please email us if you can. You can preregister. More from the DMC organizers: You are cordially invited to attend the 3rd Digital Media Conference: Freedom and Unfreedom in the Digital Age on October 25-27, 2013 at Lesley University’s Doble Campus ( on Mellen St. in Cambridge. The conference theme is Freedom and Unfreedom in the Digital Age. Plenaries and workshops will address the grave threat posed to American democracy by the ongoing NSA scandal, and relate it to threats and opportunities posed to civil liberties by the swift growth of digital media and technology in the service of the national security state. Additional connections will be made between the struggle to expand civil liberties nationwide and the campaigns by communities of color and immigrants to resist constant surveillance and mass incarceration by increasingly militarized police, ICE, the DEA, state and federal prison systems, and the private prison and security industries. Basic workshops on social media, digital storytelling and privacy software will also be offered. A special feature of the conference will be a Digital Storytelling and Media Activism Boot Camp led by documentary filmmaker Prof. Chloe Smolarski of Parsons The New School for Design and CUNY in New York City. Video continues to play a vital role for communications for non-profits in … Read more

published under Main Topic, Out And About, Privacy | 4 Comments

My Statement at the Joint Committee on Election Laws Hearing

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On Wednesday, October 16th, I gave the following testimony to the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Thank you to First Officer Lucia for attending the hearing with me and to Lucia, Alex, Steve, Joe and everyone else who reviewed my testimony and offered suggestions and advice. Thank you to the Chairman and Joint Committee on Election Laws for allowing me to speak today. I am James O’Keefe, Chair of the Massachusetts Pirate Party. Throughout the world, whether in Sweden, Russia, Brazil, or Massachusetts, the Pirate Party stands for democracy and transparency. Before you are a series of bills that would open up or constrain elections in Massachusetts. Bills such as H.645 and H.640 would introduce Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) to Massachusetts. IRV would ensure that candidates win by a majority rather than the most votes. IRV is a voting system used by a number of other advanced democracies such as Ireland and Australia. Yesterday, State Senator Clark won her primary for the US House 5th District. However, 68% of all Democratic primary voters did not vote for her. Instant Runoff Voting would ensure that that would not be the case for future elections of some, but unfortunately not all offices. Allowing cities to adopt IRV, as H.640 does, would mean that cities could save money by eliminating preliminary elections. H.597, which would establish an independent redistricting commission, is a positive step toward taking politics out redistricting decisions. Unfortunately, the suggested commission is not as independent as it should be. H.619, which would broaden access to the central voter registry, favors parties with ballot status by requiring that they pay a reasonable fee for their monthly access to the data; political designations, however, would need to pay $1000 for each access. Unfortunately various bills before this committee would subvert our democracy. … Read more

published under Elections, Main Topic | Comments Off on My Statement at the Joint Committee on Election Laws Hearing

WikiLeaks’ 7th Birthday Vigil this Friday

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What: Join us for a vigil to mark WikiLeaks’ 7th Birthday. There will be cake. When: Friday, October 4th, starting at 5pm Where: British Consulate General at One Broadway Cambridge MA 02142 in Kendall Sq. near the Kendall Sq. Red-line MBTA stop. It is the Badger Building in the map below at the corner of Broadway and Third Street. What to bring: friends and family who believe in justice and a true freedom of speech, posters, your voice 4th October 2013 marks the 7th anniversary of the launch of WikiLeaks. It will also be 472 days since Julian Assange, the organization’s founder has been trapped inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. And it will be 44 days since Chelsea (Bradley) Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison – expected to be first up for parole in 7 years. It will be 137 days since Edward Snowden fled from the US, and over a full year that #BarretBrown has been in jail awaiting trial for posting a LINK. Please share this page or Facebook event and invite your friends! View Mass Pirates Places of Interest in a larger map

published under Freedom of the Press, Main Topic, Out And About | 1 Comment

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