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Top Story: Gov’t sued for using 'decades old' computers

Top Story: Gov’t sued for using 'decades old' computers
photo courtesy of shutterstock

Hard-hitting journalists and reporters all across the country often take full advantage of the Freedom of Information Act. Created 50 years ago, the act itself means that anyone can have access to federal documents and information that "keeps citizens in the know about their government."

But there's one big problem. Researcher Ryan Shapiro is accusing the FBI of using heavily outdated technology, or as he calls it "failure by design" when it comes to searching for information on a digital platform.

Freedom of Information Act law clearly states that federal agencies must “make reasonable efforts to search for the records in electronic form or format” and Shapiro points out that the FBI doesn't comply. To top things off, back in January a judge ruled "the FBI had acted in a manner fundamentally at odds with the statute.”

With that ruling in mind, Shapiro is headed back to court by suing the FBI, with the hopes of implementing new software for Freedom of Information requests.

Just how bad is the tech the FBI is using?
Simply put, it's a system called Automated Case Support (ACS) and it's old enough to buy a beer. Yes, ACS just celebrated its 21st anniversary. In tech years, that's ancient history.

According to claims, ACS also doesn't search the actual text of the files, and still, amazingly the screens in use are the old IBM screens that show text in green. It's not at all as effective as a Google search and needs to be phased out and upgraded immediately - especially for a government agency.

The Department of Justice hasn't commented on the issue. Even if the agency is actually trying to keep the population out of the loop, a study done by the FBI itself on the 9/11 attacks found that "the Bureau’s information technology was inadequate to support its counterterrorism mission."

So what's the deal? Why haven't these systems been updated or replaced in more than two decades? What do you think? Let me know your opinions by posting in the comments below.

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