By Eric Dai
If you don’t watch certain news, it may seem like “critical race theory” became a cultural flashpoint seemingly out of nowhere. Pundits on cable news have railed against critical race theory as “neo-Marxist rhetoric,” “mandatory indoctrination,” and “a disease born from the hateful halls of left-wing academia.” In state legislatures around the country, lawmakers introduced bills implicitly or explicitly banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, with those bills becoming law in six states (and counting). …
How the newest member of the Fortune 500 is crushing local journalism.
By Nathaniel Hylton
Earlier this month, Sinclair Broadcast Group was thrilled to share with the world that the telecommunications company, after decades of growth, had finally made its way into the coveted Fortune 500 list. What Sinclair’s self-congratulatory press release failed to mention was that this rise to the top was achieved on the backs of struggling local news outlets across the country.
Local news is being destroyed. Over the past decade, media consolidation has significantly decreased the number of news outlets operating across the United States. Since…
It’s time for Congress to Overhaul PACER.
By Rita Wegner
The American courts system is a vast, sprawling behemoth, broken up by level of government and location. Access to records from local and state courts varies widely, but in 1988 the federal government created the Public Access to Court Electronic Record, commonly known as PACER. Compared to other levels of courts, this is an easy and unified way to obtain federal records, but, after more than 30 years improvements are desperately needed. …
By Sacha Sloan
Last month during Sunshine Week — an annual initiative launched in 2005 to promote open government — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland proclaimed that “democratic accountability requires the kind of transparency that [the Freedom of Information Act] makes possible.” Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and parallel state and local laws play a critical role in governmental oversight; they have unearthed governmental misconduct ranging from contractor corruption to clandestine CIA torture. But state and federal public records law non-compliance, an issue noted by government transparency advocates even before the pandemic, has worsened significantly over the past year…
By Nathaniel Hylton
“Time well spent.” That’s the phrase Mark Zuckerberg has used to describe Facebook, always focusing on how the platform is “bringing people closer together.” The co-opting of this phrase — first used by Facebook critics — seems carefully designed to hide Facebook’s highly addictive nature. “It’s as if they’re taking behavioral cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface and that’s the thing that keeps you like coming back and back,” said Aza Raskin, a leading technology engineer responsible for designing the infinite scroll that has become a prominent feature across social media apps.
By Sacha Sloan
As former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin stands trial for the murder of George Floyd, a bill that would transform U.S. policing is steadily making its way through Washington. On March 3rd, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.1280 — also called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — which would institute various reforms for law enforcement agencies across the country, from banning chokeholds and qualified immunity to strengthening accountability by creating new federal standards for police departments.
Compared to other wealthy nations, U.S. civilians are killed by police officers at staggeringly high rates, with…
By Sacha Sloan
In February, Texas faced one of the deadliest and costliest weather disasters in the state’s history. Arctic-level temperatures ravaged the state’s water systems, coronavirus vaccination efforts, and power grid. As Texans recover from the devastation, the prospect of soaring energy bills and the failure of the state power grid likely will potentially induce many residents to seek out alternatives for home energy production, including rooftop solar panels. A move towards greater reliance on solar energy has benefits; compared to its natural gas and coal counterparts, solar is better for the environment and public health. …
A 2020 survey revealed that 39% of Australians get at least some of their news from Facebook. Last month, that number abruptly dropped when Facebook made the unprecedented move to ban all Australian news content under threat from a new law requiring all tech platforms to fairly compensate news outlets for their content. While Facebook and Google initially protested, Google eventually agreed to the Australian government’s terms; Facebook, however, flexed its market power by turning off all Australian news content, disrupting a significant information delivery system for the continent.
Traffic to Australian news sites fell 13% within the country, and…
By Igor Morzan, Campaign for Accountability
During the 2016 election, a conservative political advocacy group called the Faith & Freedom Coalition (FFC) helped Donald Trump secure the presidency through targeted messaging to voters. Groups like this are well-funded, and critical in helping candidates beat their opponents — something that Donald Trump and his allies aim to replicate in 2020. Earlier this year, FFC launched The 2020 Project in an attempt to increase voter registration, turnout, and education among Republicans. The project claims that $42.7 million will be needed to win the 2020 presidential election. …
Google and Apple’s invasive tools cannot replace human contact tracers and will continue to harm civil liberties long after the virus subsides.
By Jeff Hauser, Sarah Miller, and Daniel E. Stevens
Apple and Google are forging ahead with their COVID-19 contact tracing tools, and many are welcoming them as a key factor in efforts to emerge from our national lockdown. But the companies’ past behavior — and their business models — raises the prospect that their new technology could lead to an unprecedented level of surveillance long after the current crisis has passed.
It may not be worth the trade-off.
Campaign for Accountability (CfA) uses research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct & malfeasance in public life.