Summary: Yesterday the Iowa Senate approved the "Ag Gag" bill that would have a chilling effect on agricultural whistleblowers. The Iowa House quickly approved the Senate changes and sent the bill to Gov. Terry Branstad.
GAP's Food Integrity Campaign explains that while legislators removed the language that specifically restricts the recording of undercover video, the bill is clearly aimed at whistleblowers who use such, as the proposed legislation is written so that workers could face serious charges if one “obtain[s] access to the facility by false pretenses, or lies on an employment application with the intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.”
Related Article: Associated Press
Summary: Third-party food auditors have come under scrutiny in recent years after a number of foodborne illness outbreaks. Too often, a plant is given an excellent score, only to be the source of an outbreak shortly after.
Key Quote: Some critics believe there should be greater federal oversight of auditing companies. The Food Safety Modernization Act, passed a year ago, expanded the role third-party auditors can play in authorizing the safety of some imported foods, but it does not address regulating private auditors.
But Amanda Hitt, director of the Food Integrity Campaign for the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit watchdog group, does not believe the federal government should shift responsibility for food safety to private auditors.
“People confuse the role of audits,” she said. “People think it’s the same as a federal inspection but it’s not. It’s the government that has a public health mandate.”
Summary: The National Security Agency is pushing for increased surveillance of private-sector computer networks in an effort to protect them from cyberattacks. They have been rebuffed, however, by the White House and Justice Department who have privacy concerns.
GAP’s Jesselyn Radack lauds the White House’s choice in standing against this increased surveillance of the lives of US citizens.
Summary: Several police officers showed up at the house of a Facebook user after he wrote, “I wish there was a magic wand to make Senator Santorum disappear” on a private political thread. According to the officer, the government had a system to monitor and scan social sites for “suspicion of ill intent.” Some are now linking this to the Obama administration’s unprecedented prosecutions of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act and calling out Obama for this transparency hypocrisy.
Key Quote: Jesselyn Radack, director for national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, weighed in on the issue, saying that, “the Obama administration has been quite hypocritical about its promises of openness, transparency and accountability. All presidents hate leaks, but pursuing whistle-blowers as spies is heavy-handed and beyond the scope of the law.”
Summary: WikiLeaks recently started publishing millions of emails from Stratfor, a private US intelligence-gathering firm, sometimes called a “shadow CIA.” The emails were obtained by the ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous and allegedly implicate a number of large firms in corporate espionage.
Summary: This op-ed urges support of a Washington state bill that would institute qui tam cases, where whistleblowers with knowledge of fraud against the government are allowed to bring a case on the government’s behalf. These types of cases have been particularly effective in recovering fraudulent Medicare/Medicaid payments.
Orange County Register (CA): Bill Would Reveal Findings of Whistleblower Complaints
Summary: A new bill proposed in the California Senate would require public agencies to disclose findings of whistleblower complaints, while still protecting the anonymity of the whistleblower.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.