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White House Releases Open Government Directive Mandating Transparency

WASHINGTON, December 8, 2009 – The White House on Tuesday sent an open government directive to every federal department and agency with instructions on actions that should be taken to make their operations more open to the public, according to a blog entry from Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.



WASHINGTON, December 8, 2009 – The White House on Tuesday sent an open government directive to every federal department and agency with instructions on actions that should be taken to make their operations more open to the public, according to a blog entry from Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.

“The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration are at the heart of this directive. Transparency promotes accountability. Participation allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise to government initiatives. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the federal government, across levels of government, and between the government and private institutions,” said Orszag.

The move follows President Obama’s action his first day in office to sign a memorandum to federal agencies directing them to break down public barriers to transparency, participation, and collaboration. Orszag noted the White House is now publishing the names of all its visitors and posting more information on federal spending and research.

In addition to the directive, the White House released (PDF) an open government progress report noting that the Obama Administration is experimenting with new techniques and tools to improve citizen engagement. The report adds that the administration is working on “developing “communities of practice” to facilitate the sharing of ideas and software code across agencies and levels of government to realize open government in practice.”

“The Open Government Directive issued today demonstrates the seriousness of administration’s commitment to data transparency and citizen engagement,” said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation, in a statement.

Jim Harper of the CATO Institute was critical of the Obama Administration’s progress toward openness. “Today the White House announces plans for dramatic steps forward on government transparency. But the steps it could have taken starting on day one remain promises unfulfilled.

President Obama’s “Sunlight Before Signing” campaign pledge breaks every time he signs a bill without posting its final version at for five days of public review before signing it,” he wrote in a Wednesday blog entry.

Computer & Communications Industry Association President Ed Black said he thought the directive was positive but took the opportunity to complain about the lack of transparency surrounding a proposed multilateral trade agreement for establishing international standards on intellectual property known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The United States Trade Representatives has said it has taken steps to make information on ACTA more open.

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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‘A Lot’ of Providers Haven’t Complied with FCC Transparency Order, ISP Lawyer Claims

International Municipal Lawyers Association heard service providers need to prioritize transparency.



Photo of Casey Lide, partner at Keller and Heckman

WASHINGTON, February 15, 2022 – A lawyer who counsels internet service providers on service agreements said last week that “a lot” of ISPs have yet to publish network management and performance terms on their websites as required by a Federal Communications Commission order from 2018.

Casey Lide, a partner at Keller and Heckman who specializes in community broadband initiatives, said in a February 8 presentation hosted by the International Municipal Lawyers Association that he’s seen ISPs not having “complied” with the ISP Transparency Statement, which requires ISPs to describe their network management practices, performance characteristics, and performance terms on their website or submitted to the FCC.

Lide told the association that service providers need to prioritize transparency, as the FCC continues to add to the list of transparency rules that they must follow.

Last month, the FCC voted to issue “broadband nutrition labels”––a list that displays ISP pricing and speed of service in a consumer-friendly format. “There’s no details yet on how the nutrition labels for broadband would work yet,” Lide said.

Cybersecurity needs attention

Panelists also urged public entities to broaden their cybersecurity efforts to protect customer data and ensure continuity of service. “Ransomware is the biggest threat to public and private entities,” said Keller and Heckman partner Tracy Marshall.

Ransomware occurs when hackers take critical data, hold it hostage, and demand money for the data. Marshall noted examples of ransomware attacks, including the May 2021 that shut down the east coast’s main fuel supply and caused fuel prices to spike and the attack that targeted meat giant JBS, which paid $11 million in bitcoin to hackers in 2021. Although these are high-profile examples, Marshall said ransomware attacks “affect organizations of all types and sizes.”

“The most costly part of a ransomware attack is responding to it,” Marshall said, adding that It’s difficult for entities to decide where to cut their losses and “having to decide what essential services must be forgone to fund the monetary loss.”

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Panel Concludes U.S. Relatively Unprepared to Lead Global Push for Web Transparency

Experts say a lack of privacy policy in the U.S. could lead to uncoordinated efforts to lead international cooperation.



Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2021 – Digital policy experts said at an Atlantic Council event Monday that the U.S. is unprepared to lead an emerging global push for online platforms to institute more transparent website policies.

Efforts abroad, such as the Danish government’s “Action Coalition” as part of its Tech for Democracy Initiative, may prove difficult for the U.S. to support, with continued absence of  substantive online privacy policy on American soil.

Many believe that to promote international web transparency, the U.S. must regulate the large number of companies headquartered within its borders. However, the U.S. does not have a federal privacy law and such regulation is thus difficult.

Within the U.S., privacy experts have called on the Federal Trade Commission to enforce privacy protections against internet service providers.

Experts say that the necessary actions of democratic governance to promote online transparency must take place in parallel in order for such a push to be successful.

Chloe Colliver, head of digital policy and strategy at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue Global, said Monday that European Union involvement in transparency efforts still remains somewhat unclear, yet its involvement could provide a significant boost to the movement.

Much of the difficulty in promoting better transparency among online platforms lies in that allowing platforms to write rules that would govern themselves would create a significant conflict of interest, yet no one would be more knowledgeable in writing rules for governance than those same platforms.

In terms of other transparency reforms, Colliver suggests that how much data companies can collect from users be rethought, and many experts believe that multistakeholder research and development centers should be created as well as that models for research oversight may require revision.

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Free Press Denounces Facebook Ads, New Content Moderation, Problems of Broadband Adoption



Photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Anthony Quintano used with permission

Ads that describe immigrants of color as an “invasion” violate Facebook’s community standards and should not be allowed to run, according to a Wednesday petition from Free Press.

Between January and February, President Donald Trump’s Facebook page ran more than 2,000 ads that used the word “invasion” to describe immigration from Central and South America. Since then, several other lawmakers such as Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., have used the same language in their own ads.

In August, a white supremacist shooter drove to El Paso and killed 22 people, the majority of whom were Latinx. His manifesto echoed the same “invasion” rhetoric, showcasing the potentially lethal consequences of promoting such language.

“Facebook reviews ads before they’re allowed to run on the platform, and the company has rules that all advertisers are supposed to follow,” Free Press wrote. “These policies expressly prohibit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color and national origin. And yet Trump, allied nativist and white-supremacist groups and nativist lawmakers are allowed to run campaign ads using dehumanizing, white-supremacist rhetoric.”

Facebook rolls out tool to facilitate user-generated content moderation

Facebook announced on Wednesday a new tool to proactively moderate content in public and private groups. The “Group Quality” tool will show administrators which content was removed and flagged, as well false news that has been shared in the group.

Determining whether or not a group should be taken down is a complicated process, wrote Facebook VP of Engineering Tom Alison in a blog post. The most important factor is subject matter. Conduct of group administrators is also taken into account.

The platform also announced a new simplification of group privacy settings, changing the options from public, closed, or secret to just public or private.

Many critics of Facebook remain skeptical that these updates will lead to any substantial changes. “Just in the past month, I reported groups calling for a global purge of Islam, extermination of people based on religion, and calling for violence through a race war, and Facebook’s response was that none of these groups was a violation of community standards,” computer science professor Megan Squire told NBC News.

Broadband adoption is a more important metric that broadband deployment, says John Horrigan

The Federal Communications Commission is largely focused on broadband deployment, but a more important metric is that of broadband adoption, according to recent analysis in Daily Yonder from Technology Policy Institute Senior Fellow John Horrigan.

The digital divide is more about consumer adoption than network deployment, and household economics is a larger factor in non-adoption decisions than geography.

Data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that of the 20.4 million households that do not subscribe to broadband, 4.5 million cite lack of deployment as the reason while 15.9 million cite other reasons.

“It turns out that a number of factors – such as monthly fee, cost of the computer, and the capacity of smartphones, far outpace network issues as reasons people offer for not subscribing to broadband,” Horrigan wrote. “In fact, cost factors – either monthly fee or a computer – are the most important reasons (when combined) that people do not subscribe to broadband.”

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