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FOIA News: FOIA the Dead

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

THIS BOT FILES FOIA REQUESTS TO THE FBI WHENEVER THE NEW YORK TIMES POSTS AN OBITUARY

By Joe Veix, Newsweek, Mar. 10, 2017

An exciting but underappreciated genre of writing is the Great American FBI File. Think of government agents as taxpayer-funded paparazzi, invading the lives of private citizens for the supposed good of the country. There are files on many popular figures, including John Lennon, Lucille Ball and Biggie Smalls. Writer William T. Vollman famously found his own file and dug through it for a great long Harper’s essay. Say what you will about the FBI, but it has decent taste in artists.

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Considering this, artist and activist Parker Higgins figured out a way to automate the process of releasing records. No, not by murdering people; that would be terrible and time-consuming. He created a program that monitors the New York Times obituary section. Anytime a new article appears, it automatically files a FOIA request for that recently deceased person. He calls it FOIA the Dead.

Read more here.