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A Look Into the FBI's "Everything Bucket" 31

Death Metal notes an EFF report on information wrested from the FBI over the last three years via Freedom of Information requests. The report characterizes what Ars Technica calls the FBI's "Everything Bucket" — its Investigative Data Warehouse. (Here's the EFF's introduction and the report itself.) The warehouse, at least 7 years in the making, "...appears to be something like a combination of Google and a university's slightly out-of-date custom card catalog with a front-end written for Windows 2000 that uses cartoon icons that some work-study student made in Microsoft Paint. I guess I'm supposed to fear the IDW as an invasion of privacy, and indeed I do, but given the report's description of it and my experiences with the internal-facing software products of large, sprawling, unaccountable bureaucracies, I mostly just fear for our collective safety."
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A Look Into the FBI's "Everything Bucket"

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  • Well, that's unfortunate but with the massive failure of Virtual Case File [wikipedia.org] (and at extreme taxpayer expense), you can understand why you have to mail to every field office.

    In fact most of my FOIA requests have been with the FBI. To date, I've filed 57 requests with them. Of these, 8 have resulted in documents, 18 were "no records" ...

    I would consider your story a success story. It seems you don't but you recieved what documents they could provide to you.

    Here's my own anecdotal worthless history of FOIA. I was a junior in high school and was dissatisfied with lunch prices of Aramark (the same people who rape you at arenas and stadia) in our cafeteria. Every month they would systematically increase prices on all products by five or ten cents and it got to be ridiculous not long after. Then they "locked down" the campus so we couldn't leave for lunch. Which really really pissed me off. Yes I could have brought my own lunch but I didn't really like doing that.

    So I asked my friend to ask his dad (lawyer) for a template FOIA and filled it out with three other kids. We signed our names requesting the public high school release all details on their contract with Aramark. Instead, they brought us into an office room and gave us everything. I think that was an attempt to dissuade us but instead we were there late into the night. We had records on everything. What ever teacher was paid, what every contract had been made with an external business, everything. So we looked into the lunch provider history. The school had made some sort of several year contract with Aramark (not uncommon I guess) but that made them the only purchasable food.

    The rest of the story is pretty offtopic. But I found that to be a highly successful and satisfying use of the FOIA on the local level. I'm sorry Federal cases don't sound as profitable and I don't mean to sound naive but it is the Federal Government. You have to expect bullshit bureaucracy there--I'm sure field offices requesting documents from other field office experience the same problems.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger