'Transparent' FCC Doesn't Want To Reveal Any Details About Ajit Pai's Stupid Reese's Mug

from the bringing-transparency-back dept

One of FCC Chair Ajit Pai's claims about how he's changed the FCC is that he's making it more transparent. And, to be fair, he did make one key change that his predecessors failed to do: which is releasing the details of rulemakings before they're voted on. That was good. But in so many other ways, Pai has been significantly less than transparent. And this goes all the way down to incredibly stupid things, like his silly stupid giant Reese's coffee mug. That mug is so famous, that even John Oliver mocked it in his story on net neutrality:

Taylor Amarel had some questions about the mug, and made a FOIA request using Muckrock, that might shed some details on the mug (and, perhaps, a few other things):

I would like to obtain all emails sent to, from, or copied to Deanne Erwin, Executive Assistant, containing any of the following non-case-sensitive key-strings: “reeses”, “ethics”, “mug”, “liberals”, or “Reese’s” from January 1, 2017 to present day.

But the wonderfully "transparent" Ajit Pai... apparently didn't want that. The FCC's General Counsel sent back an oddly accusatory email to Amarel, demanding a ridiculous amount of completely unnecessary information -- claiming it needed that info to assess fees to respond to the FOIA request:

In our attempts to discern your fee categorization, we became aware that the name you provided, Taylor Amarel, is likely a pseudonym. In order to proceed with your request, please provide us with your name, your personal mailing address, and a phone number where you can be reached.... We ask that you provide this information by May 29, 2018. If we do not hear from you by then, we will assume you are unwilling to provide this information and will close your requests accordingly.

As Muckrock noted, there is no reason why anyone should need to prove that they are using their real name or to provide all this personal info to the FCC, and it feels like an intimidation technique. Muckrock does note that such info might be useful in determining if Amarel should be granted media status, which might help waive fees, but Amarel did not request to be covered under such status.

Amarel handed over the info... and was then told that it would cost $233 to get the emails related to Pai's Reese's mug. Using Muckrock's own crowdfunding platform, users chipped in to fund the money, so hopefully at some point the FCC will live up to its legally required transparency and tell us about that stupid mug.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Jun 2018 @ 4:23pm

    "In order to proceed with your request, please provide us with your name, your personal mailing address, and a phone number where you can be reached...."

    Aren't these the same assholes who had no problem with letters of support submitted in the name of the dead, people who submitted nothing, people who knew nothing about net neutrality, and people who opposed what the FCC was doing but someone used their names to give glowing copypasta support?

    Also can someone cite the part of the FOIA law that demands all of this information be turned over on demand?? Or is the FCC still making shit up as they go...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 13 Jun 2018 @ 4:39pm

    Intelligence of mugs

    Yes, Ajit Pai has a stupid mug.

    He also has a funny coffee cup :)

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2018 @ 4:47pm

    Wow, talk about being overcharged.

    There's no way that it requires a GS-15 attorney to "craft the necessary search string" for the records. There's also no way that it would take 15 minutes to create the query for each of the 5 requests that were aggregated.

    Finally, according to the fee letter, the actual document search will be performed by "the staff that are subject to the request." So, that means that for at least part of this request, Pai himself will be searching his emails for the relevant material? Why does that seem unlikely to me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2018 @ 4:55pm

    Routine glances for zombies, then... I. Nearly. Plotzed!

    Another RECORD! -- EIGHT YEARS THREE MONTHS since the second of THREE COMMENTS! -- Back for two sentences!

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180608/15074639995/french-president-pushing-fake-news -bill-that-would-demand-decisions-judges-48-hours.shtml#c77

    NO WAY that's a real person. (Try again, "nasch"!) EIGHTH that has over SIX YEAR GAP.

    While Masnick is going on about a suspicious coffee mug!

    You fanboys ask why I'm here? NO OTHER SITE HAS SUCH HOOTS!

    (I AM running out of astonishment, though. FITS my view of Techdirt as dis-information.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2018 @ 5:47pm

      Re:

      You mean no other site has zombies?

      I've seen you come up with a lot of stretches, but damn!

      You're here because you try to paint an inherent refusal to leave as an inability, then try to blame it on others. Get over yourself, you daft twat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2018 @ 5:54pm

      Re: Routine glances for zombies, then... I. Nearly. Plotzed!

      Literally thousands of other websites on the internet have users who comment outside of the bounds of your absurd paranoid conspiracy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Jun 2018 @ 1:44am

      Re:

      You hate this site. Why do you keep coming back and causing yourself such misery and pain?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 14 Jun 2018 @ 6:17am

      Re: Routine glances for zombies, then... I. Nearly. Plotzed!

      I can't even bring myself to mock you. It must be sad to be you and obsess in such an ill manner over imaginary things.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2018 @ 8:33am

      Re: Routine glances for zombies, then... I. Nearly. Plotzed!

      Why, for the love of god, would they need zombie accounts? If someone wanted to reply to their own story why wouldn't they just do so as Anonymous Coward? I have an account but have forgotten my password and I'm too lazy to look it up. Maybe in 8 years I'll finally feel like doing so then you can complain I didn't make a post in 8 years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2018 @ 6:17pm

    Zzzzzzz

    Who cares?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 13 Jun 2018 @ 7:14pm

    Obstruction

    It sounds like, at least in the case of the FCC, our officials are so accustomed to obstructing FOIA requests that they're now doing it reflexively, without consideration that by releasing harmless content they can better argue they respond appropriately to FOIA requests.

    Maybe the FCC is so far removed from consequences that it can't imagine anything happening from the public losing confidence in government departments.

    It's time to presume FOIA is ineffectual, and that the government is willfully obstructing efforts towards transparency or sunshine in order to conceal systemic wrongdoing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 14 Jun 2018 @ 1:10am

      Re: Obstruction

      You assume that there isn't anything untoward associated with the mug in this case. Judging by the standards of this administrator so far, would it be hard to believe that there's some kind of payoff in order for Pai to advertise the brand in a way that would be illegal?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 13 Jun 2018 @ 8:12pm

    Did Somebody say “Rees-Mogg”?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2018 @ 8:53pm

    In our attempts to discern your fee categorization, we became aware that the name you provided, Taylor Amarel, is likely a pseudonym

    So apparently faking the names of senators and citizens for posting pro-NN repeal commentary is alright because it's only the "idea" that matters... but to make a FOIA request you can get denied if the guy on the other side suddenly thinks your name doesn't sound real enough?

    Just how many dicks did Bennett have to suck? Thirty-seven? In a row?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Richard Bennett, 13 Jun 2018 @ 9:34pm

      Re:

      I'll have you know it was thirty-nine.

      You Bray-hating, Bodefacey Techdirtbags think you can pirate your way through government and regulation, but you will never defeat true love. Never! Pai is here to stay, along with that mug you anonymous fucks are so obsessed over. Guess what's not? Net neutrality, bitches!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Jun 2018 @ 1:43am

        Re: Re:

        How anyone can celebrate the corporate overlords of Internet access getting the ability to gouge customers for basic Internet usage, I will never understand. And people like you call Techdirt a bunch of corporate bootlickers…

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2018 @ 6:05pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          How anyone can celebrate the corporate overlords of Internet access getting the ability to gouge customers for basic Internet usage, I will never understand

          Sexual orientation, apparently...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2018 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re:

        It's only mostly dead. It could be resurrected when the courts toss the changes or when we get a new FCC chair.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 14 Jun 2018 @ 5:00am

    disturbingly hypocritical concern about identification

    So, the organization that does not care about massive identity theft in the net neutrality public commentary is concerned that someone might use a pseudonym in an information request. Ridiculous!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Oblate (profile), 14 Jun 2018 @ 10:38am

    So now that they have this information...

    How long until "Taylor Amarel" starts writing letters in support of the FCC?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dank710 (profile), 14 Jun 2018 @ 10:59am

    He has such a punch-able looking face.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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