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The Day in FoIA: CPS data breach, Prince Charles, Lebanon’s FOIA and the Insanane Clown Posse

CPS grovels after leaking IDs of hundreds arrested during student riots

A botched response to a Freedom Of Information Act request could be about to cost the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dear. Prosecutors have issued grovelling apologies after revealing the identities of over a hundred people who were arrested during the tuition-fee riots but subsequently released without charge.

Back in June, a member of the public asked the CPS under the FOIA to provide figures for costs and resources used in the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Malone – the generic title given to investigations following a series of demonstrations by students against tuition fees in 2010 and 2011.

The requester was bowled over when, instead of the customary refusal or obfuscations, they received a spreadsheet containing the names of 299 demonstrators arrested not just through Malone, but also during the disturbances and later under another operation, code-named Brontide.

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Jane Fae Ozimek | The Register | 27th September 2012

Cabinet must release guidance on Prince of Wales’ intervention, say legal experts

Adam Tompkins, professor of public law at Glasgow University, condemned the Cabinet Office’s “absolutely extraordinary” legal challenge to an order that it must release details of rules governing when the Prince is asked to give consent to legislation that might affect the Duchy of Cornwall.

The debate over the issue of Royal involvement in law-making followed the BBC’s apology yesterday after one of its senior correspondents disclosed in a live broadcast that the Queen had expressed frustration at Abu Hamza, the radical cleric, being allowed to remain at large in Britain.

John Kirkhope, a PhD student at Plymouth University, applied to the Cabinet Office under the Freedom of Information Act for a copy of the rules about when the Government should consult the Prince of Wales about new laws.

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Sam Marsden | The Telegraph | 26th September

Homeless children in shelters on the rise in NYC but many are turned away

Almost 20,000 children are spending the night in homeless shelters in New York City, according to new data, an increase of 24% since July 2011.

The Coalition for the Homeless, which published the figures, said the number of children in shelters would be even higher were it not for the fact that 65% of homeless families seeking admission to shelters are being turned away.

A freedom of information request by the Coalition for the Homeless found that 19,537 children were in shelters on 23 September – the most recent information available – which it described as “an all-time record high”.

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Adan Gabbatt | The Guardian | 26th September

Lebanon: Parliament begins to discuss freedom of information law

Debate began in Parliament Wednesday on a draft law that would empower citizens to request information from all public bodies. The law was drafted in 2009, but had been overlooked in Parliament until new lobbying efforts led West Bekaa MP Robert Ghanem to put the issue on the agenda of the Administration and Justice Committee.

Under the bill anybody would have the right to request data held by public bodies, including judicial courts and private institutions in charge of running public utilities, government-linked corporations and other associations that deal with issues of public interest. There are exceptions for, among other things, information regarding national security and individual privacy.

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Emma Gatten | The Daily Star (Lebanon) | 27th September 27th 2012

US calls Assange ‘enemy of state’

THE US military has designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the United States – the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency.

Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with “communicating with the enemy”, a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.

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Philip Dorling | The Sydney Morning Herald | 27 September 2012

Insane Clown Posse Sue FBI Over Gang Listing

Insane Clown Posse have officially sued the FBI for information about what prompted the agency to list the group’s “Juggalo” fans as a gang, according to a statement on the group’s website.

The suit, filed earlier this week, claims the FBI improperly withheld records Insane Clown Posse had requested under the Freedom of Information Act. ICP sought records regarding an investigation that landed the Juggalos in the government’s National Gang Threat Assessment report in 2011. Parts of the report describe Juggalos as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang” and said they “exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.”

Rappers Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope announced in August at the Gathering of the Juggalos that they intended to sue. “We are not a gang!” the group’s statement reads. “We are a family! We come together for our luv of the Insane Clown Posse, Psychopathic Records and our Juggalo pride. Can we take a fuckin’ second to note that Jimmy Buffett’s Parrot Heads, Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, Justin Bieber’s Beliebers, the Grateful Dead’s Deadheads and many more haven’t been labeled as a gang?”
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Rolling Stone | 27th September 2012

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