If Then

The Court-Records Paywall Scam

The federal judiciary is making millions off a records system many think should be free.

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On today’s show, hosts April Glaser and Will Oremus check in on net neutrality. Last Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments for the biggest court challenge to last year’s repeal of the open internet rules—with all the challenges against the FCC’s gutting of net neutrality rolled into one.


And on the week of Facebook’s 15th birthday, the hosts talk about (surprise!) Facebook’s latest privacy scandal. This one involved paying people—including teens—to use a special research app that gave Facebook backdoor access to their mobile phones. In honor of the anniversary, they’ll also talk a bit about where the company came from, where it’s going, and why all the doomsday predictions about it haven’t seemed to come true. At least not yet.


Then, the hosts will discuss PACER, the federal judiciary’s electronic records system, which has been raking in millions in fees to give people access to public court records. They’ll be joined by Deepak Gupta, an attorney who is leading the class-action lawsuit against PACER that alleges the system grossly overcharges.


16:53 - Interview with Deepak Gupta

32:52 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Stories discussed on the show:

Slate: Today Is a Huge Day in the Fight to Restore Net Neutrality

Slate: Facebook’s Very Good, Very Bad Week

WNYC Studios: Nickel and Dimed … for Federal Government Court Documents

The New York Times: Attacking a Pay Wall That Hides Public Court Filings

Don’t Close My Tabs:

Slate: You Should Never Have Trusted Flickr to Protect Your Cherished Photos

Sports Illustrated: What Time Is the Super Bowl? We Asked Theoretical Physicist Carlo Rovelli

The Verge: What Time Is the Super Bowl Throughout the Solar System?

Slate: What Time Were the Super Bowls?

The New York Times: Want to Read About the Superb Owl? Click Here

Deadspin: What Time Does ‘What Time Does the Super Bowl Start?’ Start

Podcast production by Max Jacobs

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.