Are feds involved in bid to undo state open govt law?

Did you know that there are more than 40 so-called Fusion Centers across the U.S.?

Did you know that there are more than 40 so-called Fusion Centers across the U.S.? A Fusion Center is a top-secret site where federal and state officials meet to share, analyze and redistribute information on "all hazards, all threats," as Ars Technica explains.

Here's a map of where fusion centers are active (red), forming (pink) and nonexistent (gray).

In Virginia, there's an open government law and the state police are concerned that law might inhibit their ability to share and receive information from other government agencies. So they're pushing for a bill -- HB1007 -- that would, Ars reports:

Render all of the Virginia Fusion Center's databases and records exempt from FOIA requests. The bill also proposes to make Fusion Center employees exempt from subpoena in civil actions related to "criminal intelligence information," and it would grant to call-in tipsters immunity to defamation and invasion of privacy claims.
Some groups, like the Electronic Privacy Information Center, think the federal government is behind the push to limit open government. Last month EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request (PDF) with the Virigina State Police to find out what communications there have been between VSP and Homeland Security, the Dept. of Justice and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research. There was no response, so last week EPIC filed suit.

Regardless of that suit, HB1007 looks headed for easy passage. The state House passed the bill 100-0 and the Senate just approved a conference report.


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