EFF offers search tool for mining government docs

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a track record of success in prying public records from the clutches of government entities whose overseers would just as soon those records not be pried. Trouble is EFF has more records than eyeballs available to dig through the pages.

In an effort to better balance that equation, EFF today is launching its FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) project, which aims to combine the fruits of its Freedom of Information Act scores with the capabilities of modern search technology.

From an EFF press release:

EFF's document collection -- obtained through requests and litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) -- casts light on several controversial government initiatives, including the FBI's Investigative Data Warehouse and DCS 3000 surveillance program, and the Department of Homeland Security's Automated Targeting System and ADVISE data-mining project.  The documents also provide details on Justice Department collection of communications routing data, Pentagon monitoring of soldiers' blogs, mismatches in the Terrorist Screening Center's watchlist, and FBI misuse of its national security letter subpoena authority. ...

"Until recently, documents obtained under FOIA often gathered dust in filing cabinets," says EFF senior counsel David Sobel. "We believe that government information should be widely available and easy to research, and our new search engine makes that a reality."

You can take FLAG for a spin here.

By the way, it's good to see EFF working both sides of this particular street: shedding light on information belongs to the public while also helping the public keep personal information secret from the government. The FLAG initiative follows the launch earlier this month of EFF's "Surveillance Self-Defense" site, which is designed to provide Americans with practical advice on how to keep their government from snooping into their private communications and stored computer data.

You can get the details about that effort here.

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