Friday, January 24, 2014

"Need permission, not a Legislator" (But I'm a member of the public)

As many of you know I have been on the tail of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) to share with me (public data), for example, name of the company who they have a contract with for the cellular exploitative (surveillance) devices.  I also wanted a copy of the contract (public data).   So far I have gotten neither.

The newly revised figure spent on the Kingfish/Stingray is about $600,000 plus with most of it general funds from the Minnesota taxpayer per response sent by Commissioner Dohman of DPS to four Minnesota legislators who sent a letter asking a number of questions.  But what intrigued me in the response is that DPS gave the names of the cell spy devices:  Kingfish and Stingray 2.  I have been asking for that same data since September.  So when I saw that legislator's got it and I did not, I wanted to know why.

I asked a number of people why.  This is my take and view:

The Department of Public Safety had to ask the "unnamed company" for permission to give data to parties outside DPS.  When I first asked for public data I was given the run around with only limited disclosure.  That disclosure being they had a "cellular exploitative device" and public monies spent was approximately $732,000.

Why were the names of the devices given to legislators, but not me.  Because DPS went to the "unnamed" company and asked permission to do so.  But why did you not ask permission to give that data to me knowing that I was interested per my data request.  Because you're not a legislator, legislator's over see DPS to see how public dollars are spent and they make policy.  But does not the public do the same in interacting with their elected officials.  Should there be double standards for access to public data because you are an elected official?  No.

But still the question for me is who is the "unnamed" company and will the public or legislators see a copy of the contract which just may have a provision in it being interpreted to not give out "clearly" public data which in my view is contrary to law.

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