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Category Archives: Censorship

CRS – National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations

National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background, Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law. July 31, 2015.
“Five federal statutes authorize intelligence officials to request certain business record information in connection with national security investigations. The authority to issue these national security letters (NSLs) is comparable to the authority to issue administrative subpoenas. The USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56) expanded the authority under the original four NSL statutes and created a fifth. Thereafter, the authority was reported to have been widely used. Then, a report by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG) found that in its use of expanded USA PATRIOT Act authority the FBI had “used NSLs in violation of applicable NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, and internal FBI policies,” although it concluded that no criminal laws had been broken. A year later, a second IG report confirmed the findings of the first, and noted the corrective measures taken in response. A third IG report, critical of the FBI’s use of exigent letters and informal NSL alternatives, noted that the practice had been stopped and related problems addressed.”

DOJ Prevailed Over Google on Email Privacy Case

Ryan Gallagher – The Intercept: “The Obama administration fought a legal battle against Google to secretly obtain the email records of a security researcher and journalist associated with WikiLeaks. Newly unsealed court documents obtained by The Intercept reveal the Justice Department won an order forcing Google to turn over more than one year’s worth of data from the GmailContinue Reading Reaches 50 Canaries

EFF – “We’re excited to announce that Canarywatch has added its 50th canary: First Look Media, the parent company for The Intercept—the news site created by journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill.EFF-  “Warrant canary” is a colloquial term for a regularly published statement that an internet service provider (ISP) has not received legalContinue Reading

Human Rights World Report 2015

“World Report 2015 is Human Rights Watch’s 25th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. In his keynote, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth reflects on a year so tumultuous, “it can seem as if the world isContinue Reading

Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2015

“The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate. Top of the list, as so often, are threeContinue Reading

Libraries After Charlie Hebdo: The Threat of Violence, The Fear of Self-Censorship

Lisa Peet – Library Journal – “Although written texts often evoke strong, sometimes contentious reactions, political cartoons and caricatures can be equally incendiary. According to Barbara Jones, executive director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) of the American Library Association. (ALA), “Cartoons are a particular problem in our office—graphic novels and books with cartoonsContinue Reading

Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers

PEN America – “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers is a new report demonstrating the damaging impact of surveillance by the United States and other governments on free expression and creative freedom around the world. The report’s revelations, based on a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide, are alarming. Concern aboutContinue Reading

The Tightening Web of Russian Internet Regulation

Tselikov, Andrey, The Tightening Web of Russian Internet Regulation (November 20, 2014). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-15. Available for download at SSRN: “Over the past two years, systematic Internet regulation has increased more in Russia than anywhere else in the world. A series of progressively more restrictive legislative developments between the summer of 2012Continue Reading

On Modeling the Costs of Censorship

Michael Carl Tschantz, Sadia Afroz, Vern Paxson, J. D. Tygar (Submitted on 10 Sep 2014) “We argue that the evaluation of censorship evasion tools should depend upon economic models of censorship. We illustrate our position with a simple model of the costs of censorship. We show how this model makes suggestions for how to evade censorship. In particular, fromContinue Reading

Study: Government Blocks Specific Journalists From Accessing Information

David Sorota: “As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, it was revealed this week that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “seriousContinue Reading

Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later

Fencing Out Knowledge – Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later, American Library Association, Policy Brief No. 5, June 2014. “What do Hotmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Facebook, and National Geographic have in common? They offer content and services that millions of Americans use every day to communicate, share content, and seek information. They alsoContinue Reading

Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere

Etling, Bruce and Roberts, Hal and Faris, Robert, Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere: The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia’s Media Ecology (April 22, 2014). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-8. Available at SSRN: or “Applying a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, we investigate whether Russian blogs represent an alternative publicContinue Reading