As We Predicted: Outlaw Librarian of Congress Violates Obama Administration Rules On Online Polls for Policymaking



Email from Library of Congress announcing online Survey Monkey Poll ( is owned by Survey Monkey).   I was also able to submit a comment by “tunneling” to a machine with a non-US IP address. The comment above is a parody comment not my actual comment.   

December 16 the mother of all  “take out the trash Fridays”

Congress in recess?  Check.

Beginning of christmas holidays?  Check.

Therefore, Librarian of Congress releases policy-violating online poll to help select the new Register of Copyrights.

Why do these people make it so easy for us?  We timed our Trichordist stories for this week guessing the librarian would release the poll today.  Sometimes it sucks to be right.  But we were right.

So why did Librarian of Congress Dr Hayden (and  former Soros/Open Society Foundation board member) release the poll today when no one in DC is paying attention?

Violates Obama administration rules, guidance and federal law?

Cass Sunstein, then the Administrator of the Obama Office of Management and Budget, issued a memo in 2010 to the heads of executive branch departments and regulatory agencies which dealt with the use of social media and web-based interactive technologies.  He says this:

“[b]ecause, in general, the results of online rankings, ratings, and tagging (e.g., number of votes or top rank) are not statistically generalizable, they should not be used as the basis for policy or planning”

While the memo was widely seen as a “go ahead” to use social media for some purposes, the memo sternly reminds all agency heads that existing law is still in effect (footnote 2):

“2 Nothing in this Memorandum should be read to alter agency obligations under existing law, including the Administrative Procedure Act, the Privacy Act, and the Federal Records Act. Agencies should continue to comply with all applicable OMB memoranda when using web-based technologies, including but not limited to M-05-04, “Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites,” Information Quality Act; OMB Circular A-130 – Management of Federal Information Resources; Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996; and the E-Government Act of 2002. OMB also advises agencies to consider resource limitations, per 5 C.F.R. 1320.9(h), in the use of social media and web-based interactive technologies. In these and other areas, agencies shall comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and policies that pertain to privacy.
3 44 U.S.C. § 3502(3)(A).
4 See 44 U.S.C. § 3501.
5 5 C.F.R. 1320.3(h).”

Frankly this is all over my head, but I’m pretty sure if someone like Cass Sunstein says this is probably bad policy, I bet it’s actually illegal.

Recent history of hacked online polling and policy making.

In 2009 a Canadian Government consultation on copyright was hijacked.  Chris Castle detailed the entire fiasco in these two blogs.

Even one of the shadowy organizations trying to hijack -er I mean influence- the consultation appeared to screw it all up, as the reliably pro-technology/pro-google Geist (Canada’s Lessig) was outraged that not all robotically filed comments were filed:

Earlier this year the US Copyright office public comment on the DMCA Safe Harbor was hacked by Fight For The Future (AKA Center for Rights in Action)  a group then run by Google operative Marvin Ammori and “progressive” NY Gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout.   Fight For the Future posted EXACTLY 86,000 identical comments that were supposed to have come from real individuals.  They did this via a robot web form on their own website that then posted the comments to the website.   Exactly 86,000. Does that seem curious to anyone? Not 86,017,  not 85,997 but exactly 86,000.  They even bragged to pro-piracy blog Torrent Freak that they had taken down a US government website.  How is that not an illegal DoS attack?  Naturally no one in the Obama administration bothered to look into what appeared to be a cyber attack by a 501 (C) 4 tax exempt non-profit on a government website.  See their tax form center-for-rights-in-action-990-fy14.    I’m busy maybe someone can ask the IRS about this?    Or AG State of Massachusetts about tax exempt status of organizations that commit possible cyber crimes?

If the past actions by technology astroturf organizations are any guide, we can expect this web form to be spammed and hijacked in a similar way.

See more of our coverage of Fight For The Future here:

(this one above really begs the question as to whether this organization deserves tax exempt status).


Also there is some nice additional coverage from Music Tech Policy over here