Kevin Gosztola’s post: US News Editors Find It Increasingly Difficult to Defend First Amendment is very sad, especially where he covers the inability to obtain records/information:
Forty-four percent of editors indicated their news organization was less able to go on the offense and sue to open up access to information.
“Newspaper-based (and especially TV-based) companies have tougher budgets and are less willing to spend on lawyers to challenge sunshine and public records violations,” one editor acknowledged.
Another editor declared, “The loss of journalist jobs and publishers’ declining profits means there’s less opportunity to pursue difficult stories and sue for access to information.” The costs of litigation constrain organizations.
“Government agencies are well aware that we do not have the money to fight. More and more, their first response to our records request is, ‘Sue us if you want to get the records,’” one editor stated.
What if the journalism and hacker communities can unite to change:
‘Sue us if you want to get the records’
into a crowd-sourced:
‘Hack us if you want to get the records’
The effectiveness of crowd-sourcing requires no documentation.
Public service hacking by crowds of hackers would greatly reduce the legal fees expended to obtain records.
There are two elements missing for effective crowd-sourced hacking in support of journalists:
- Notice of what records journalists want.
- Disconnecting hackers from journalists.
Both elements could be satisfied by a public records request board that enables journalists to anonymously request records and allows anonymous responses with pointers to the requested records.
If subpoenaed, give the authorities the records that were posted anonymously. (One assumes hackers won’t leave their fingerprints on them.)
There may be such a notice board already frequented by journalists and hackers so please pardon my ignorance if that is the case.
From Kevin’s post I got the impression that isn’t the case.
PS: If you have ethical qualms about this approach, recall the executive branch decided to lie at will to judicial fact-finders, thereby rendering judicial review a farce. They have no one but themselves to blame for suggestions to by-pass that process.