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EFF Unveils Search Tool for FOIA Results 57

Posted by kdawson
from the beats-languishing-in-a-drawer dept.
The EFF has released a beta version of a new search tool that lets you mine the documents the EFF has unearthed using FOIA requests and lawsuits over the years. Quoting: "In celebration of Sunshine Week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched a sophisticated search tool that allows the public to closely examine thousands of pages of documents the organization has pried loose from secretive government agencies. The documents relate to a wide range of cutting-edge technology issues and government policies that affect civil liberties and personal privacy." I tried a search for "border" among the documents relating to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and turned up 21 results and fascinating reading.
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EFF Unveils Search Tool for FOIA Results

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  • Next up - energy policy.
  • by rindeee (530084) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @07:29AM (#27223587)
    ...but couldn't they just make them searchable via Google? Why reinvent the wheel?
  • wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by zoomshorts (137587) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @07:34AM (#27223625)

    Let me guess before looking, hundreds of PDF files with those annoying black lines through
    that parts people are really interested in.

    • Re:wow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yacoby (1295064) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @07:45AM (#27223725)

      Let me guess before looking, hundreds of PDF files with those annoying black lines through
      that parts people are really interested in.

      I remember reading somewhere about a method of removing the black lines by calculating what the word could be based on the font used (letter spacing). I am not sure how far it got, and weather you could input a context.

      And some information is always better than no information.

      • by rHBa (976986)
        I remember reading that but I think it only worked on blured text, not totally blacked out text.

        I guess if you had to work out one word in a sentence you could tell how many letters it is and, given the context, come up with some possibilities but in these cases I'm guessing (of course I haven't RTFA) that lots of words/sentences/paragraphs would be blanked out.
      • by Golddess (1361003)

        I remember reading somewhere about a method of removing the black lines by calculating what the word could be based on the font used (letter spacing). I am not sure how far it got, and weather you could input a context.

        (emphasis mine)

        Eye wood guess that homophones mite mess things up though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Just scanned through some and yes, that's it. More frustrating are email discussion where all emails are included, each time with the whole email they answer to, while sender and recipients are blacked out. The information here is : so these two guys discussed about another guys' problem, they looked a bit concerned. Could be anyone, slashdot readers, governments officials, ambassadors, we don't know. Useless 100 pages block of paper.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    bah that site is censored couldn't find any UFO

  • I'm glad the EFF is doing this. I haven't submitted any FOIA requests, but having heard tales of the bureaucratic mess it involves, I am not particularly excited to as well. The fact that the EFF is making this information which now has freedom more accessible can only be applauded.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Depends on the department, some places it goes smooth as clockwork. That's your clue you didn't ask for anything unpatriotic or counterrevolutionary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        If one had sufficient resources, it would be quite interesting to use large numbers of FOIA requests, on a wide variety of topics, to build a "topic sensitivity map", if you will, of various agencies. Analogous to the various network mapping and monitoring techniques that infer things about the network's structure, load, and so on by looking at packet response times, TTLs, and losses.
  • A principle of the Information Age: Government is wise to organize itself and its records so it can swiftly and efficiently respond to freedom-of-information-act [typepad.com] requests. Resistance to such requests is wasteful and makes government look out-of-touch. --Ben

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

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