The FBI has been pushing to get more powers to wiretap
newer digital forms of communication -- some of which are supposed to be encrypted end-to-end -- for quite some time. It's been working with various companies to try to get backdoors, while also pushing for legislation to compel companies to comply. It is known that the FBI has a program called "Going Dark" to tap digital communications. The EFF sought information on Going Dark with a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, which generally turned up heavily redacted documents that revealed very little. In response, the EFF went to court... and the court has now said that the feds need to reveal more
. First, the court said that the government appeared to go overboard in leaving out info:
the Government is directed to conduct a further
review of the materials previously withheld as non-responsive. In conducting such review, the
presumption should be that information located on the same page, or in close proximity to undisputedly responsive material is likely to qualify as information that in “any sense sheds light on,
amplifies, or enlarges upon” the plainly responsive material, and that it should therefore be
produced, absent an applicable exemption.
Separately, the court said that the index of info provided has problems, not necessarily in the index itself, but the way it's presented seems purposely designed to stifle the EFF's efforts to understand the exemptions by overloading the info, without clearly highlighting what applies to what:
As plaintiff points out, however, the large number
of different types of documents included in each summary entry in the index, and the fact that
multiple exemptions are claimed, makes analysis difficult, despite the veneer of detail. The
supporting declaration covers 171 pages (with a great deal of repetition) purportedly explaining the
justification for all of the exemptions claims, but does not identify documents by bates numbers or
otherwise, further exacerbating the problem.
As such, the court has ordered the feds to try again:
the existing index is insufficient to provide an adequate foundation for review of the soundness of
the exemption claims. Accordingly, the FBI is directed to provide a revised index as promptly as
practical, making a good faith effort to address the issues raised by EFF.
This is the "most transparent administration in history"? Withholding excess info and making sure the info sent over is as tough as possible to review?