Image_Jay RockefellerThe United States is in dire need of an improved Freedom of Information Act, not just for journalists and academics, but because every citizen has the right to know what their government is doing. A new, straightforward attempt to do this called the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 (S. 2520) has massive support—a version passed the House 410-0—but there is one man trying to shut this bipartisan effort down.

Outgoing Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is single-handedly trying to stop the transparency legislation by not letting it come up for a vote. On Thursday he put a hold on the bill, and refused to comment. When he did, he issued a brief non-statement saying more transparency would “have the unintended consequence of harming our ability to enforce the many important federal laws…”

The FOIA Improvement Act would, for example: [click to continue…]

what are ag-gag lawsI was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Animal Law Conference last month, and when I was there I sat down with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to talk about the role of journalists in protecting animals (and protecting the civil rights of those who are protecting animals).

I hope you’ll check out this brief video about ag-gag laws, which make it illegal to expose animal welfare abuses, food safety violations, and workers’ rights infringements on factory farms and slaughterhouses. [click to continue…]

factory farm drone article will potter journalismMy latest article for the October 2014 issue of Wired magazine:

The agriculture industry is waging an international campaign to create a media blackout. In response to a series of investigations by animal-welfare groups that has resulted in criminal prosecutions and consumer outrage, the industry is promoting new “ag-gag” laws that make it illegal to photograph factory farms and slaughterhouses. About half a dozen US states currently have these laws, and now this censorship model is being adopted internationally.

So how should journalists respond to investigative methods and sources being criminalised? Just as the best response to governments banning books is to encourage reading them, the best response to banning photographs is to encourage more photography. It’s time for journalists to send in the drones.

As a reporter, I always want to see what’s hidden. When government documents are redacted, it naturally makes them more intriguing. And when factory farms introduce new laws to prohibit media exposure, it makes me want to see what it is that they are hiding. [click to continue…]

will-potter-seattle-by-colette-yasi-naraghiI’ve got a few speaking events coming up in the next couple weeks. Hope to see ya’ll there!

Friday, November 7th, 2014
Ciudad de las Ideas, Mexico City

Thursday, November 13th, 2014
George Washington University (Law School Room SCC on 2nd Floor of Lisner Hall, 7pm)

Saturday, November 15th, 2014
Albany Veg Fest (keynote, 12:15 pm)

Thursday, November 20
Vassar College (Rocky 300, 5pm)

Photo courtesy of Colette-Yasi Naraghi

BREAKING: 4 People Prosecuted Under #AgGag Law for Photographing Factory Farm From the Road

After photographing Circle Four Farms in Utah from the public street, four people are being prosecuted under the state’s ag-gag law.

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#AgGag Victory in Australia!

Ag-gag legislation against photographing animal abuse has been defeated in South Australia, but more bills may be on the way.

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The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the Criminalization of Dissent

In post-9/11 America, the power of “terrorism” rhetoric, combined with corporate efforts to manufacture and manipulate government repression, has created a unique and incredibly powerful culture of fear.

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Agriculture Official Who Called #MeatlessMonday “Treasonous” Is Back At It

One Agriculture Commissioner is warning of an insidious plot to indoctrinate our children. And it could be coming to a school cafeteria near you.

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Beef Industry Compares the Humane Society to ISIS

Beef Magazine says the group responsible for beheadings is “similar” to the Humane Society.

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Great News in the Lawsuit Against Idaho’s #AgGag Law

A lawsuit challenging Idaho’s ag-gag law as unconstitutional is moving forward, with a supportive ruling by a U.S. federal judge.

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