MuckRock & Vice Announce Fellowship To Investigate Peter Thiel
from the will-charles-harder-be-given-a-new-target? dept
So this is interesting. MuckRock, the really useful FOIA platform (that I regularly use for filing FOIA requests), has announced what it’s calling MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship, in which it’s offering to give free service to between one and three “Thiel Fellows” who decide to do FOIA projects involved in investigating some Peter Thiel-connected companies:
MuckRock is offering a grant of 250 requests (a $1,000 value), plus our invaluable FOIA expertise, to between one and three inaugural Thiel Fellows who propose projects that help the public better understand organizations or areas of research and public policy connected with Thiel.
As MuckRock notes, many of Thiel’s efforts touch on government activities (which would make them open to certain FOIA requests):
Peter Thiel – co-founder of both PayPal and Palantir and an early Facebook investor – has profoundly reshaped industry after industry and, ultimately, remade the world to fit his radical vision of the future. Unfortunately, despite his impact in industries ranging from digital payments and mass government surveillance to radical life extension and seasteading, the media has done relatively little reporting on the details of his companies, often leaving the public in the dark on his contributions to society.
Vice’s Motherboard tech site has also stepped up and agreed to double the amount so that even more people can file Thiel-related FOIAs.
Of course, the name MuckRock chose for this is a clear play on the well-known Thiel Fellowship, in which he gives $100,000 to entrepreneurial college students to work on building companies, rather than completing school.
And while I’m not so sure how much Thiel-related info is really FOIA-able, this may put to the test Thiel’s stated claim that he wasn’t against journalism that made him look bad, in funding lawyer Charles Harder to sue Gawker into oblivion, but rather to “send a message” about protecting privacy. Of course, when you try to silence the press, there’s always a chance that the press decides to turn an even bigger spotlight on you. I guess now we have to wait and see if Harder starts threatening MuckRock with trademark infringement claims over the name…