New York Times: "The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of calls. In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters. In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies."
"The percentage of the global population living in countries with a free press is at the lowest level in more than a decade, according to the findings of Freedom of the Press 2013: A Global Survey of Media Independence, a new report by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Freedom House. The report found that just 14 percent of the world’s population — about one in six people—live in societies “where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.”
"A federal district court judge in San Francisco has ruled that National Security Letter (NSL) provisions in federal law violate the Constitution. The decision came in a lawsuit challenging a NSL on behalf of an unnamed telecommunications company represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). In the ruling publicly released [March 15, 2013], Judge Susan Illston ordered that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stop issuing NSLs and cease enforcing the gag provision in this or any other case. The landmark ruling is stayed for 90 days to allow the government to appeal."
News release: "This morning, Google released their semi-annual transparency report, and once again, it revealed a troubling trend: Internet surveillance around the world continues to rise, with the United States leading the way in demands for user data. Google received over 21,000 requests for data on over 33,000 users in the last six months from governments around the world, a 70% increase since Google started releasing numbers in 2010. The United States accounted for almost 40% the total requests (8,438) and the number of users (14,791). The total numbers in the US for 2012 amounted to a 33% increase from 2011. And while Google only complied with two-thirds of the total requests globally, they complied with 88% of the requests in the United States."
News release: "According to statistics released today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 6,222 criminal incidents involving 7,254 offenses were reported in 2011 as a result of bias toward a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or physical or mental disability. The statistics, published by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program in Hate Crime Statistics, 2011, provide data about the offenses, victims, offenders, and locations of the bias-motivated incidents reported by law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. Due to the unique nature of hate crime, however, the UCR program does not estimate offenses for the jurisdictions of agencies that do not submit reports."
"What role should online intermediaries play in policing the content and conduct of their users? What if any legal responsibility should they bear when users post or transmit material that may be unlawful? These are familiar questions to advocates for Internet openness and crucial issues for Internet policy. Today, CDT is releasing an expanded and updated paper, Shielding the Messengers: Protecting Platforms for Expression and Innovation and additional resources that explore these complex issues."
News release: "In 1996, while debating the intricacies of a bill that would massively overhaul the telecommunications laws of the United States, two astute Congressmen introduced an amendment that would allow the Internet to flourish. The amendment - which would become Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230) - stated that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech - blogs, review sites, social networks, and more - are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do. CDA 230 is crucial to the free flow of expression online. While the rest of the Communications Decency Act, an attempt by the government to regulate indecent content online, was found unconstitutional by the courts, Section 230 survived. As Judge Wilkinson put it in the seminal CDA 230 case, Zeran v. America Online, "Section 230 was enacted, in part, to maintain the robust nature of Internet communication, and accordingly, to keep government interference in the medium to a minimum." Websites could edit, filter, and screen content if they wanted without being held liable for the content itself...To better inform everyone on the Internet of the importance of this law, we have created an extensive guide to CDA 230.."
"USCIRF’s [United States Commission on International Religious Freedom] 2012 report, The Religion-State Relationship & the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Comparative Textual Analysis of the Constitutions of Majority Muslim Countries and Other OIC Members, analyzes how constitutions of countries belonging to the OIC treat issues of human rights and religious freedom. This study, which updates a study USCIRF undertook in 2005, focuses on 56 countries. The study finds that these countries, stretching from Europe to Africa through the Middle East and into Asia, encompass a variety of constitutional arrangements addressing the role of Islam and the scope of religious freedom and other related human rights. A constitution’s text is important as both a statement of fundamental law and national aspirations, and a tool for those seeking to enforce its promises."
"How do the “digital footprints” of Internet and cellphone users affect privacy, and what impact does this have on freedom of expression? These questions lie at the heart of a new study released by UNESCO this week...This publication seeks to identify the relationship between freedom of expression and Internet privacy, assessing where they support or compete with each other in different circumstances. The book maps out the issues in the current regulatory landscape of Internet privacy from the viewpoint of freedom of expression. It provides an overview of legal protection, self-regulatory guidelines, normative challenges, and case studies relating to the topic.
Freedom on the Net 2012: "This report is the third in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 47 countries that occurred between January 2011 and May 2012. Over 50 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the internet, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources."
EFF: "A new study from Australia presents the latest evidence that loosening copyright restrictions not only enables free speech, but can improve an economy as well. The study, published by the Australian Digital Alliance, indicated that if Australia expanded copyright exceptions like fair use, along with strengthening safe harbor provisions, the country could potentially add an extra $600 million to their economy. In addition, the report details how vital copyright exceptions are to the Australian economy as a whole. As ADA’s executive officer and copyright advisor Ellen Broad told EFF, "Australia's sectors relying on copyright exceptions currently contribute 14% of our GDP, around $182 billion and they're growing rapidly. It's essential that Australia's copyright policy framework adequately support innovation and growth of these sectors in the digital environment.”
Promoting Global Internet Freedom: Policy and Technology. Patricia Moloney Figliola, Specialist in Internet and Telecommunications Policy, August 30, 2012
News release: "EFF's Keeping Your Site Alive guide includes tips on choosing an appropriate webhost to provide the security and technical assistance needed to weather an attack. The guide also gives advice on how to back up and mirror content so it can be made available elsewhere in case the site is compromised, and includes tutorial videos with background information on the technical concepts involved. Denial of service attacks are an issue for websites across the globe, so EFF's guide is available in many different translations, including Chinese, Russian, Persian, and Arabic."
Amnesty International Report 2012 "documents specific restrictions on free speech in at least 91 countries as well as cases of people tortured or otherwise ill-treated in at least 101 countries – in many cases for taking part in demonstrations."
Google - First Amendment Protection for Search Engine Results, April 20, 2012. Eugene Volokh and Donald M. Falk [This White Paper was commissioned by Google, but the views within it should not necessarily be ascribed to Google.]
Human Rights and Technology Sales: How Corporations Can Avoid Assisting Repressive Regimes, By Cindy Cohn, Trevor Timm, & Jillian C. York - April 2012
Bloggers Under Fire: "As activists and ordinary citizens around the world are increasingly making use of the Internet to express their opinions and connect with others, many governments are increasing their surveillance and censorship capabilities and taking legal or extrajudicial actions against bloggers and social media users. The threats to netizens are increasing. The Committee to Protect Journalists found in 2008 that 45% of all imprisoned journalists were arrested for activities conducted online. In their 2012 press freedom barometer, Reporters Without Borders cited 123 incidents of imprisoned "netizens" in twelve countries. Though the motivations of governments vary from country to country, the goal—to silence "threatening" voices—is the same. EFF supports the principles of free expression laid out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and believes that those principles must extend online. While our domestic work focuses on helping bloggers in the United States understand their legal rights, our international work focuses on the legal and bodily threats to Internet users in countries around the world. To that end, we have partnered with Global Voices Online's Threatened Voices project, which tracks individual cases of bloggers under threat or detention, to help shed light on this global phenomenon."
First Amendment Architecture, Marvin Ammori, Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2012, No. 1, 2012.
World Press Freedom Index 2011-2012 - "Syria, Bahrain and Yemen get worst ever rankings - “This year’s index sees many changes in the rankings, changes that reflect a year that was incredibly rich in developments, especially in the Arab world,” Reporters Without Borders said today as it released its 10th annual press freedom index. “Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news." “Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011. Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous. The equation is simple: the absence or suppression of civil liberties leads necessarily to the suppression of media freedom. Dictatorships fear and ban information, especially when it may undermine them."
Via CDT: "Earlier this week, Twitter announced that it will begin making certain Tweets inaccessible to users in countries where the content of those Tweets is illegal. In announcing its new policy, Twitter was acknowledging the challenge that all global social media sites face: governments ask tech companies to comply with local content laws and if these companies refuse to comply, they risk being blocked from the country entirely, further limiting information that citizens can access. If the company has employees on the ground, refusal also risks legal charges against employees. This, of course, raises a well-worn question: are human rights better served when a platform restricts some content in order to remain in a country, or when it resigns itself to a nationwide block of its service?"
Spotlight on Speech Codes 2012: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation's Campuses, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
"EPIC has filed a Freedom of information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to force disclosure of the details of the agency's social network monitoring program. In news reports and a Federal Register notice, the DHS has stated that it will routinely monitor the public postings of users on Twitter and Facebook. The agency plans to create fictitious user accounts and scan posts of users for key terms. User data will be stored for five years and shared with other government agencies.The legal authority for the DHS program remains unclear. EPIC filed the lawsuit after the DHS failed to reply to an April 2011 FOIA request. For more information, see EPIC: Social Networking Privacy."
The Protester, by Kurt Andersen: "It's remarkable how much the protest vanguards share. Everywhere they are disproportionately young, middle class and educated. Almost all the protests this year began as independent affairs, without much encouragement from or endorsement by existing political parties or opposition bigwigs. All over the world, the protesters of 2011 share a belief that their countries' political systems and economies have grown dysfunctional and corrupt — sham democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and prevent significant change. They are fervent small-d democrats. Two decades after the final failure and abandonment of communism, they believe they're experiencing the failure of hell-bent megascaled crony hypercapitalism and pine for some third way, a new social contract."
UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council Seventeenth special session, Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, November 23, 2011.
"Documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal open a rare window into a new global market for the off-the-shelf surveillance technology that has arisen in the decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The techniques described in the trove of 200-plus marketing documents include hacking tools that enable governments to break into people’s computers and cellphones, and "massive intercept" gear that can gather all Internet communications in a country. The documents—the highlights of which are cataloged and searchable here—were obtained from attendees of a secretive surveillance conference held near Washington, D.C., last month."
"In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's prescription privacy law. IMS Health, Inc. v. Sorrell held that the Vermont statute, which bars disclosure of prescription data for marketing purposes, violates data mining firms' free speech rights. Vermont "burdened a form of protected expression that it found too persuasive. At the same time, the State has left unburdened those speakers whose messages are in accord with its own views. This the State cannot do." the Court wrote. The Court suggested that a more privacy-protective statute might have withstood Constitutional scrutiny, writing "the State might have advanced its asserted privacy interest by allowing the information’s sale or disclosure in only a few narrow and well-justified circumstances. A statute of that type would present quite a different case than the one presented here." EPIC filed an amicus brief on behalf of 27 technical experts and legal scholars, as well as nine consumer and privacy groups, arguing that the privacy interest in safeguarding medical records is substantial and that the "de-identification" techniques adopted by data-mining firms do not protect patient privacy. For more information, see EPIC: IMS Health v. Sorrell."
"Because we believe that Internet censorship is not only against the basic purpose of the Internet, which is to let people communicate what the want to with the people they want to communicate with, but also fundamentally against the universal right to freedom of opinion and expression [which] includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (UDHR, Article 19), we offer you here "How to bypass Internet Censorship". This book, How to bypass Internet Censorship. will not only help you find your way in the diversity of tools and techniques that allow you to defeat Internet censorship, but will also tell you more about how censorship works behind the curtains. You will also learn about the risks that may be linked to the use of such tools, and help you evaluate and mitigate them thanks to encryption or anonymization techniques."
"Freedom of the Press 2011 identifies the greatest threats to independent media in 196 countries and territories. Released on May 2 as part of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day celebration in Washington, D.C., the report shows that global media freedom has reached a new low point, contributing to an environment in which only one in every six people live in countries with a Free press. In 2010, there were particularly worrisome trends in the Middle East and the Americas, while improvements were noted in sub-Saharan Africa. Below are several critical tools to highlight data from the annual index of global press freedom, and to help explain the newest findings in their historical context."
"A new Freedom House report found that while the majority of circumvention tools used to evade government censorship online perform similarly well, the country in which they are used and the nature of the censorship dictate their effectiveness. No one tool provides a silver bullet for security as governments become more sophisticated in filtering content and monitoring user activity. Freedom House recently released the findings of the report, which were based on user surveys..."
Via CDT, "Regardless of Frontiers:" The International Right to Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age: "The purpose of this report is to explore how the internationally recognized right to freedom of expression should apply to the Internet. This report is intended to spark further research, discussion, and action. The Internet offers individuals around the world the potential to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas in unprecedented ways. Like no medium before it, the Internet can empower citizens to communicate instantaneously with others in their own communities and worldwide, at low cost relative to traditional forms of media. The Internetʼs unique attributes create new opportunities to collaborate, exchange ideas, and promote scientific, cultural, and economic progress. Producers of traditional forms of media also can use the Internet to greatly expand their audiences at nominal cost. Like no other technology, the Internet can transcend national borders and eliminate barriers to the free flow of information. These unique features of the Internet, if properly supported, can foster innovation, economic growth, democratic participation, and human development."
Freedom in the World 2011: The Authoritarian Challenge to Democracy, Washington, D.C, January 13, 2011: "Global freedom suffered its fifth consecutive year of decline in 2010, according to Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s annual assessment of political rights and civil liberties around the world. This represents the longest continuous period of decline in the nearly 40-year history of the survey. The year featured drops in the number of Free countries and the number of electoral democracies, as well as an overall deterioration for freedom in the Middle East and North Africa region. A total of 25 countries showed significant declines in 2010, more than double the 11 countries exhibiting noteworthy gains. The number of countries designated as Free fell from 89 to 87, and the number of electoral democracies dropped to 115, far below the 2005 figure of 123. In addition, authoritarian regimes like those in China, Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela continued to step up repressive measures with little significant resistance from the democratic world. Published annually since 1972, Freedom in the World examines the ability of individuals to exercise their political and civil rights in 194 countries and 14 territories around the world. The latest edition analyzes developments that occurred in 2010 and assigns each country a freedom status—Free, Partly Free, or Not Free—based on a scoring of performance on key democracy indicators.
Via FAS: China: Student Informant System to Expand, Limiting School Autonomy, Free Expression (U//FOUO - "Unclassified // For Official Use Only")- 23 November 2010, CIA-DI-10-05021 [This report was prepared by the Open Source Works, which was charged by the Director for Intelligence with drawing on language trained analysts to mine open-source information for new or alternative insights on intelligence issues.]
The Man Who Spilled the Secrets: "The collaboration between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Web’s notorious information anarchist, and some of the world’s most respected news organizations began at The Guardian, a nearly 200-year-old British paper. What followed was a clash of civilizations—and ambitions—as Guardian editors and their colleagues at The New York Times and other media outlets struggled to corral a whistle-blowing stampede amid growing distrust and anger. With Assange detained in the U.K., the author reveals the story behind the headlines." By Sarah Ellison
News release: "...the FCC announced a challenge to researchers and software developers to engage in research and create apps that help consumers foster, measure, and protect Internet openness. The Open Internet Challenge is part of the FCC’s efforts to empower end users to help preserve Internet openness. Details of the challenge are posted at openinternet.gov/challenge. “This challenge is about using the open Internet to protect the open Internet,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “Our goal is to foster user-developed applications that shine light on any practice that might be inconsistent with the free and open Internet. Empowering consumers with information about their own connections will promote a vibrant, innovative, world-leading broadband ecosystem.” The Open Internet Challenge seeks to encourage the development of innovative and functional applications that provide users with information about the extent to which their fixed or mobile broadband Internet services are consistent with the open Internet. These software tools could, for example, detect whether a broadband provider is interfering with DNS responses, application packet headers, or content."
"Mass collaboration is revolutionizing not only the way we work, but the way we live, learn, create and care for each other. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, authors of Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, analyze some of the trends reshaping our world. Today: Journalism in the age of user-generated content and Wikileaks - "It turns out people will not pay for news as a commodity. In an age of Twitter, bloggers, WikiLeaks and social networks, people can find the news without buying a paper. As one youngster said, “If the news is important it will find me.” The Internet has destroyed the business model for print. Print publications will survive, but not in the long term, and this has big implications for journalism. Compared to the massive physical assets of, say, The New York Times, online newspaper The Huffington Post has almost zero printing and distribution costs. The New York Times employs more than a thousand people in its editorial department alone. The Huffington Post employs 60 and a volunteer roster of thousands of writers. The site is thriving, with 20 million readers."
"The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to share a new report, Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites by Ethan Zuckerman, Hal Roberts, Ryan McGrady, Jillian York, John Palfrey
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to share a new report, Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites by Ethan Zuckerman, Hal Roberts, Ryan McGrady, Jillian York, John Palfrey
EPIC: December 10 marks the United Nation's annual International Human Rights Day, which celebrates the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration sets forth universal privacy rights in Article 12 and rights to freedom of expression in Article 19. The Declaration's importance and influence is recognized in the U.S. State Department's annual Human Rights Reports. In 2009, the Public Voice published the Madrid Privacy Declaration, which affirmed these international rights to privacy and free and open expression. You can find more information and resources through the U.N. Dag Hammarskjöld Library's Human Rights Day page."
Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere, Jillian C. York, The OpenNet Initiative (ONI), November 2010
Long Live the Web - "The Web is critical not merely to the digital revolution but to our continued prosperity—and even our liberty. Like democracy itself, it needs defending." By Tim Berners-Lee
News release: "In settling a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the federal government [October 18, 2010] recognized the public’s right to take photographs and record videos in public spaces outside federal courthouses throughout the nation. The settlement comes after the NYCLU sued the federal government in April on behalf of a Libertarian activist who was unlawfully arrested by federal officers after exercising his First Amendment right to record digital video outside of a federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan."
Follow up to previous postings on National Security Letters, this news release: "The FBI has partially lifted a gag it imposed on American Civil Liberties Union client Nicholas Merrill in 2004 that prevented him from disclosing to anyone that he received a national security letter (NSL) demanding private customer records. Merrill, who received the NSL as the president of an Internet service provider (ISP), can now reveal his identity and speak about his experience for the first time since receiving the NSL. The ACLU and New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the NSL statute and the gag order on behalf of Merrill (then called John Doe) in April 2004, which resulted in numerous court rulings finding the NSL statute unconstitutional. Merrill was the first person ever to challenge an NSL in court...NSLs are secret record demands the FBI issues to obtain access to personal customer records from ISPs, libraries, financial institutions and credit reporting agencies without court approval or even suspicion of wrongdoing. Because the FBI can gag NSL recipients to prohibit them from disclosing anything about the record demands they receive, the FBI's use and potential abuse of the NSL power has been shrouded in excessive secrecy. While the NSL served on Merrill stated that he was prohibited from telling anyone about it, he decided to challenge the demand in court because he believed that the FBI was ordering him to turn over constitutionally protected information about one of his clients. Because of the FBI-imposed gag, Merrill was prohibited from talking about the NSL or revealing his identity and role in the lawsuit until today, even though the FBI abandoned its demand for records from Merrill more than three years ago."
America Speaks Out: "This site was developed as part of an official effort to increase the dialogue between Americans and their Congress. Here, Americans are provided a new platform to share their priorities and ideas for a national policy agenda. As House Republicans, we are committed to our principles of limited, more accountable government; economic freedom; lower taxes; fiscal responsibility; protecting life, American values, and the Constitution; and providing for strong national security. This is an open forum, however, where all Americans are welcome to respectfully offer their opinions, regardless of party affiliation and whether we endorse them or not. It is our hope the active engagement of the American people will produce a robust debate that will aid in the construction of a new American agenda. This website is paid for with official funds of the Office of the House Minority Leader – no political or campaign funds have been used for any portion of the America Speaking Out project."
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Background and Policy Issues, Luisa Blanchfield, Specialist in International Relations, December 2, 2009
New York Times - A Legal Battle: Online Attitude vs. Rules of the Bar: "And with thousands of blogs and so many lawyers online, legal ethics experts say that collisions between the freewheeling ways of the Internet and the tight boundaries of legal discourse are inevitable — whether they result in damaged careers or simply raise eyebrows."
"Banned Books Week (BBW): Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where the freedom to express oneself and the freedom to choose what opinions and viewpoints to consume are both met. As the Intellectual Freedom Manual (ALA, 7th edition) states:
Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.
On Locational Privacy, and How to Avoid Losing it Forever, By Andrew J. Blumberg and Peter Eckersley, August 2009: "Over the next decade, systems which create and store digital records of people's movements through public space will be woven inextricably into the fabric of everyday life. We are already starting to see such systems now, and there will be many more in the near future...Locational privacy (also known as “location privacy”) is the ability of an individual to move in public space with the expectation that under normal circumstances their location will not be systematically and secretly recorded for later use. The systems discussed [in this report] have the potential to strip away locational privacy from individuals..."
CDT news release: "The Supreme Court Wednesday dealt the final blow to the government's 10-year campaign to place onerous restrictions on Internet content. The Court declined to hear the government's appeal of lower court rulings [3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in COPA February 22, 2008] that declared the Child Online Protection Act as unconstitutional. COPA passed in 1998 but was never enforced due to immediate court challenges on First Amendment grounds. Since COPA was passed there have been at least three major commissions or studies that have concluded that education and voluntary technology tools are the most effective way to protect kids online. These approaches are the ones Congress and the President should pursue to enhance Internet safety."
"The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) today released a series of papers [Transition Materials for President Obama] that outline Internet policy proposals for President-elect Obama's Transition Team in the areas of security and civil liberties; preserving free speech on the Internet; keeping the Internet an open platform; protection of consumer privacy; and promoting open government. The 2-3 page memos provide a concise overview of the issues and recommend practical, achievable actions the new administration can take to keep the Internet open, innovative and free. The Internet played an integral part in this election, making it the most participatory in history. CDT believes the Internet can play an equally critical role in other areas, including health care, economic development and education, given the right government policies."
"The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today issued a report card grading 15 federal agencies on their policies controlling communication between staff scientists and the news media and the public. The report found significant inconsistencies and confusion among agency media policies and their implementation. Some agency policies encourage free speech, but the agencies stifle communication. Other policies are weak, but in practice the agencies allow scientists to speak freely. And although overall many agency policies are deficient, UCS has seen some positive changes in recent years.
Commentary: New FBI Anti-Terror Guidelines - Beth Wellington's commentary focuses on congressional and public response to the guidelines, related public surveillance actions, and on ramifications to civil liberties now and in future.
News release: "U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced that a number of the largest American internet companies [Microsoft, Google, Yahoo], human rights organizations and other stakeholders have reached agreement on a voluntary code of conduct that would govern internet companies operating in countries where internet freedom is restricted, like China."
News release: "The Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) announced today that their anti-censorship software tools are ready to help journalists and tourists during the Olympics, to circumvent China's Internet blockade. The software, which is available free of charge, can be downloaded onto a hard drive or USB drive to safely and effectively overcome the Internet censorship in China.
In the run-up to Olympics, Beijing tightened control over media and Internet. Overseas web sites that have keywords on Beijing's blacklist are blocked and cannot be visited from China without any "anti-censorship" tools. The decision to block access to these websites is in contravention to Beijing's earlier promises to grant unrestricted Internet access to foreign reporters during the Games, and will seriously impede reporters' ability to do their work in Beijing. Although web restrictions were relaxed to some degree on Friday, it is unclear how long these conditions will last.
In order to overcome these Internet restrictions and gain free access to the Internet in China, the GIFC recommends that journalists and tourists download the free software packages by its partners. All Internet traffic through the tools is encrypted and can successfully bypass the Internet blockades in repressive nations around the world."
May 23, 2008: "...the National Security Archive publishes its third installment of the diary of one of the main supporters of Mikhail Gorbachev and strongest proponents of glasnost during the perestroika period in the Soviet Union — Anatoly Sergeevich Chernyaev. This section of the diary, covering two key years of history, is being published in English here for the first time.
By 1987 Chernyaev has become a member of Gorbachev’s inner circle, a close adviser the General Secretary relies on for drafting his speeches, writing his book on perestroika, and often for baring his soul and sharing doubts and concerns about the speed and the direction that the reform is taking. Even though Chernyaev’s position focuses his responsibilities on foreign policy, the diary shows how deeply involved he was in developing the ideas of perestroika in philosophical terms, and in applying them to Soviet domestic political structures and ideology. He is especially vocal in his encouragement of openness and freedom of the press.
Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT): Global Internet Freedom Should Be Top Human Rights and Foreign Policy Priority - "The Congress and Administration should make global Internet freedom a top human rights and foreign policy priority, CDT said today in testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. The government should closely monitor and report on global Internet freedom and factor progress in this area into criteria for development assistance and conditions for trade agreements. CDT also called for greater cooperation between the U.S. government and the technology industry to better manage human rights risks associated with offering Internet services in repressive countries."
"Freedom House released Freedom of the Press 2008: A Global Survey of Media Independence today in advance of World Press Freedom Day on May 3. Release materials -- including country scores, draft reports, the overview essay, and the methodology -- are now available. The survey, released annually since 1980, assess the degree of press freedom in every country in the world. According to this year's survery, press freedom declines outnumbered advances two to one in 2007, with declines seen in authoritarian countries and established democracies."
News release: "Chinese lawyers who take cases seen by the government as politically sensitive or potentially embarrassing face severe abuses ranging from harassment to disbarment and physical assaults, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today...The 142-page report, Walking on Thin Ice: Control, Intimidation and Harassment of Lawyers in China, details consistent patterns of abuses against legal practitioners. These include intimidation, harassment, suspension of professional licenses, disbarment, physical assaults, and even arrest and prosecution when lawyers take politically sensitive cases, seek redress for abuses of power and wrongdoings by party or government agents, or challenge local power-holders."
News release: "An investigation of the Environmental Protection Agency released today found that 889 of nearly 1,600 staff scientists reported that they experienced political interference in their work over the last five years. The study, by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), follows previous UCS investigations of the Food and Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and climate scientists at seven federal agencies, which also found significant administration manipulation of federal science."
News release: "Many Americans assume that China's internet users are unhappy about their government's control of the internet, but a new survey finds most Chinese say they approve of internet regulation, especially by the government."
"A joint project of the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Progress & Freedom Foundation tracks more than 30 pieces of federal legislation that seek to protect children online, some of which pose serious threats to free speech. The reports released today summarize and categorize child online safety bills introduced in the 110th Congress, analyze free speech implications of key bills, and provide recommendations to Congress on how it can promote child online safety without impinging on First Amendment rights. February 06, 2008."
"This week the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a number of online safety bills that pose significant risks for free speech and innovation on the Internet. No less than seven bills relating to online safety are in play in Congress this week; CDT today released an analysis of each. CDT supports S. 2344, which promote online safety education, and H.R. 719, which focuses Internet restrictions on sex offenders who might pose risks to children online. CDT strongly opposes all or portions of five other bills now pending in the Senate."
Press release: "The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a new report on China's internet user population. There are now an estimated 137 million internet users in China, second in number only to the United States, where estimates of the current internet population range from 165 million to 210 million. The growth rate of China's internet user population has been outpacing that of the U.S., and China is projected to overtake the U.S. in the total number of users within a few years. The influx of tens of millions of new online participants each year can be expected to have far-reaching consequences for the Chinese population, for China itself and for the larger world. At the very least, the internet will offer ever greater numbers of Chinese a much more sophisticated information and communications world than the one they currently inhabit. And because the Chinese share a single written language, despite the multiplicity of spoken tongues, it could have a unifying effect on the country's widely dispersed citizenry. An expanding internet population might also increase domestic tensions that could spill over into China's relations with the U.S. and other countries while the difference between Chinese and Western approaches to the internet could create additional sore points over human rights and problems with restrictions on non-Chinese companies."
Remarks by Secretary Michael Chertoff to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Washington, D.C., Release Date: January 18, 2007.
Barrett v. Rosenthal, California Supreme Court, November 20, 2006: "In the context of defamation, the Communications Decency Act of 1996, codified at 47 U.S.C. section 230, prohibits "distributor" liability for Internet publications. Further, section 230(c)(1) immunizes individual "users" of interactive computer services, and no practical or principled distinction can be drawn between active and passive use."
Follow up to October 20, 2006 posting, National Community Reinvestment Coalition Files FTC Complaint Against Zillow.com, see Anita Ramasastry's article, Do Zillow.com's Web Property Estimates Violate Federal Consumer Laws? Why the Site Is Wise To Add Disclaimers to Its Home Valuations
Press release: "In the 149-page report, "Race to the Bottom: Corporate Complicity in Chinese Internet Censorship, Human Rights Watch documents how extensive corporate and private sector cooperation – including by some of the world's major Internet companies – enables...China's system of Internet censorship and surveillance."
"CDT today urged lawmakers to reject legislation that would force Internet speakers to place government-sanctioned warning labels on a broad range of online content. "Mandatory labeling of legal online content under threat of criminal sanction is ineffective, unwise, and unconstitutional," CDT wrote in a pair of letters sent to the leaders of the Senate Commerce and Appropriations Committees. The language has been attached to a major telecommunications bill and more recently to an appropriations package. As written, the provision would apply to a broad range of Internet content, and could force online publishers to tag legal, and often socially valuable, material with a "digital scarlet letter." CDT supports voluntary labeling efforts and has long endorsed the use of voluntary parental control tools such as filters."
Press release: "The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the national ACLU and its affiliates in Florida, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maine, Pennsylvania and Washington. The lawsuit charges that the Defense Department is refusing to comply with national Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking records on the ACLU, the American Friends Service Committee, Greenpeace, Veterans for Peace and United for Peace and Justice, as well as 26 local groups and activists."
Press release: "The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia today released new evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is using counterterrorism resources to spy on peaceful faith- and conscience-based advocacy groups. School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) and its multinational faith-based network is the latest organization uncovered by the ACLU to have been subject to Federal Bureau of Investigation counterterrorism surveillance."
Following up on several related postings on bloggers and campaign speech, today the FEC issued a 96 page document (PDF) promulgating its final rules that impact the publication of campaign related information. Declan McCullagh has more details and commentary.
Following up on previous postings concerning the FBI's use of National Security Letters to obtain library patron records, the New York Times reports today, Librarian Is Still John Doe, Despite Patriot Act Revision
Op-Ed in Roll Call by CDT Officials Supports Protecting Bloggers without Opening Soft Money Loopholes in the Campaign Finance Laws: "H.R. 4900 protects bloggers and small speakers far better than does H.R 1606, and by design, it does not create other loopholes in the campaign finance laws. Those who truly want to protect bloggers and ordinary citizens should support H.R. 4900. Those whose real goal is to undermine campaign finance laws should support H.R. 1606, which provides only limited protection to online speakers."
H.R. 4900: Internet Free Speech Protection Act of 2006 - To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to exclude certain communications made over the Internet from certain requirements of such Act, and for other purposes.
House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, February 15, 2006 Hearing, The Internet in China: A Tool for Freedom or Suppression?
Links to statements and testimony below are in PDF:
Follow-up to February 2, 2006 posting, Hearing Focuses on Internet Censorship in China, this WSJ free feature today: Internet Censorship - Web Firms Face Grilling on China.
Congressional Human Rights Caucus Members' Briefing: Human Rights and the Internet - The People's Republic of China, Wednesday, February 1, 2006: "China has one of the most sophisticated content-filtering Internet regimes in the world. The Chinese government employs sophisticated methods to limit content online, including a combination of legal regulation, surveillance, and punishment to promote self-censorship, as well as technical controls. Informational websites, including that of the BBC, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and the public encyclopedia, Wikipedia, have been partially or completely blocked in China."
Follow-up to January 29, 2006 posting, Gov't Climate Change Expert Contends Censorship of Data - today Sen. Barbara Boxer issued a press release that included the text of her letters to ranking members of two Senate committees stating, "It has come to my attention that the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Dr. James E. Hansen, has had his public papers and statements on critical scientific matters severely restricted by Bush Administration officials. Considering the gravity of these allegations, I strongly urge you to hold a hearing to investigate these charges."
New York Times editorial, January 29, 2006, Spies, Lies and Wiretaps: "A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies."
American Libraries Online, January 13, 2006: "The American Library Association's Executive Board intends to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if the FBI has been collecting information on the Association and its leaders as a result of their opposition to certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act. ALA OIF Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone said the FOIA request builds on the American Civil Liberties Union's discovery of information that leads it to believe that the FBI has been scrutinizing organizations that advocate changes to the Patriot Act. The request would focus on activities relating solely to the Association's advocacy concerning the Patriot Act."
Spirit of America sponsors The Anoniblogging Wiki: "This wiki contains our five initial guides on how to blog more safely [targeted to citizens in Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Malaysia and Zimbabwe]. Across the globe, countries that discourage free speech have followed their citizens into the blogosphere. According to one count, in the last two years at least 30 bloggers (and there are no doubt more) have been interrogated, arrested, tortured and sentenced to long prison terms for the "crime" of speaking critically about their governments. Regardless of your culture, your country, your politics or religion, we believe you deserve to speak your mind without falling afoul of state power. Unfortunately, what you deserve and what you get are not always the same thing. So, for those of you who wish to speak out on your blogs, but who do not wish to risk imprisonment or worse for doing so, we have prepared guides that will help you to blog more safely by blogging more anonymously."
"Online Rights Canada (ORC) is a grassroots organization that promotes the public's interest in technology and information policy. We believe that Canadians should have a voice in copyright law, access to information, freedom from censorship, and other issues that we face in the digital world." [press release]
Follow-up to my September 29, 2005 posting, Broad Coalition Pushes to Lift Gag Order Against Librarian, AP reports that yesterday the ACLU filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, the text of which is censored, to release an anonymous Connecticut librarian from a gag order concerning an FBI investigation into his/her organization's patron records.
From Reporters Without Borders, a new resource: Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents (46 pages, PDF):
The Washington Post reported today (reg. req'd) on a new e-government initiative that is worth noting. Through the efforts of seven Democratic Senators (Barbara A. Mikulski, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Mary L. Landrieu, Debbie Stabenow, Maria Cantwell, and Hillary Clinton), this website, Ask John Roberts, provides a voice to citizens to communicate their questions about Judge Roberts to the Judicary Committee.
"EPIC joined eight civil liberties organizations to submit a "friend of the court" brief (38 pages, PDF) in Forensic Advisors v. Matrixx Initiatives, a case before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in which a pharmaceutical company is attempting to force a newsletter publisher to disclose his subscriber list. The company wants to use the list in connection with a law suit it filed against numerous unidentified people who posted derogatory comments about the company on Internet discussion boards. The brief argues in favor of protecting the list under a Maryland law that protects journalists' sources. It also argues that the list is protected under the First Amendment, since disclosure of the list would deter readership and violate constitutionally established privacy rights."
From the National Journal, this article is worth savouring for those who appreciated what are referred to as "Ratherisms". Example:
This CBS News article examines the role of blogs and bloggers in the recent political campaigns. Specifically, it spotlights the use of blogs in support of Republican John Thune's race for the South Dakota Senate seat. The bloggers in question did not provide disclaimers on their respecitve sites indicating they had received payment totaling $35,000 as Thune's "paid advisors."
The Internet and the right to communicate: "This paper examines the development of a right to communicate and how it can be defined and implemented."
Media Ownership and Democracy in the Digital Information Age - Promoting Diversity with First Amendment Principles and Market Structure Analysis (313 pages, pdf).
An EFF advisory addresses a legal challenge (initiated by two Swarthmore students, an ISP and a privacy group) in response to cease and desist orders issued by an electronic voting machine manufacturer. These orders were in response to the publication on the web of some 13,000 pages of internal corporate documents which included extensive discussion of equipment flaws. The manufacturer, Diebold Systems, Inc. is one of the country's largest suppliers of touch screening voting technology, with 33,000 of their machines in use in 37 states.
Related resources from EFF:
Related articles include:
"On November 3, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and free speech groups representing librarians, publishers, writers and others filed a brief [in support of the ACLU's complaint filed July 30] that strongly supports a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the provision of the USA Patriot Act that gives the FBI virtually unlimited access to personal, organization and business records, including bookstore and library records. The U.S. Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss the case." [Link]
Bret McDanel, a former employee of Tornado Development, Inc., served a 16 month sentence for violating the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act. After leaving Tornado, a provider of Unified Messaging (UM) solutions, he sent an email to thousands of the company's customers detailing a corporate email security flaw. End of story? Apparently not, as today AP reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Cheng (LA) requested that the court reverse Mr. McDanel's conviction, stating that an "error" had been made, as McDanel did "not intentionally impair the [email] system by reporting its security flaws."
From Boston.internet.com: "In a blow for chipmaker Intel, the California Supreme Court Monday found that senders of spam e-mails cannot be sued under state law forbidding property trespass. The 4 to 3 ruling reversed a lower court injunction preventing former Intel engineer Ken Hamidi from sending e-mails critical of Intel to thousands of its employees." See my previous posting, California Supreme Court Reviews E-Mail Case, which links to numerous resources on this case.
In a 6 to 3 decision (56 pages, pdf) released today in United States v. American Library Association (02-361), the Supreme Court ruled that the Children's Internet Protection Act does not violate the First Amendment, and Congress can thereby require the use of Internet filters by public libraries receiving federal funds.
DVD-CCA v. Bunner, on appeal before the California Supreme Court, involves the posting of free software for the DeCSS code (to decrypt DVDs) by Andrew Bunner on his website. Prior to the beginning of this case in 2000, the DeCSS code had been published widely on sites around the world. According to SFGate.com, "California Attorney General Bill Lockyer joined the movie industry in contending that the DeCSS code was simply a burglary tool designed for breaking, entering and stealing a trade secret -- the industry-owned code designed to prevent unauthorized playback of movies recorded on digital versatile discs, or DVDs." See also this posting on the case from Freedom to Tinker.
From Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog, this informative posting on Internet software filtering company N2H2's current 10Q filing which includes the following language: "Free speech and privacy concerns could adversely affect the demand for our Internet filtering solutions."
On a related issue, see my April 10 posting: U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns (MA) dismissed a lawsuit by the ACLU on behalf of Harvard law student and cyber-activist Ben Edelman who argued a first amendment right to create software to decrypt an Internet blocking program by N2H2.
A new 28 page ACLU report (pdf), Freedom Under Fire: Dissent in Post-9/11 America, documents instances of "censorship, surveillance, detention, denial of due process and excessive force" on the part of the government. See the press release here.
The Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of Healthgrades.com v. Northwest Healthcare Alliance Inc.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider this Friday the case of Healthgrades.com v. Northwest Healthcare Alliance Inc. for their fall docket (No. 02-1250). This case is of considerable interest in light of the recent Internet jurisdiction decision from Australia, Dow Jones and Company v. Gutnick, which was back in the news last week.
For a well documented discussion of the 9th Circuit decision, Northwest Healthcare Alliance Inc. v. Healthgrades.Com, Inc., (C.A. 9 (Wash.), 2002 WL 31246123 (unpublished), please see 9th Circuit Adopts "Effects Test" in Online Jurisdiction Case.
On April 2, the California Supreme Court heard oral argument in the appeal of Intel v Hamidi. Hamidi is a former Intel employee who after his termination, on six separate occasions, used the company's internal e-mail address listing to send messages to 30,000 employees.
See also these related articles: Intel e-mail issue divides court and Trespassing or Free Speech?
Maryland House Bill 661, Internet Child Pornography - Removal, is opposed by the advocacy group Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT). CDT staff counsel John B. Morris testified before the Judiciary Committee Maryland House of Delegates on March 4 that the bill has "...due process problems under the Fourteenth Amendment, free speech problems under the First Amendment, technical problems that create a risk of instability for the Internet, and effectiveness problems..."
The CDT contends that the Maryland bill is substantively similar to a Pennsylvania law, and would result in the indiscriminate blocking of potentially hundreds of sites.
From Writ, this article, Can Europe Block Racist Websites from its Borders? refers to the Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems, ETS No.: 189. This treaty is now open for signature by the States which have signed the Treaty ETS 185, the Convention on Cybercrime.
The Department of Homeland Security quickly issued, without benefit of public comment, new final interim regulations limiting public access to secret and sensitive agency information under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Procedures.
From the High Court of Australia, to the Fourth Circuit, and now the Fifth Circuit, jurisdiction issues as they apply to Internet libel cases are in the spotlight. The Fifth Circuit, in Oliver "Buck" Revell v. Lidov and Columbia University, affirmed the United States District Court For the Northern District of Texas decision that Revell, former Associate Deputy Director of the FBI under Reagan, and a resident of Texas, could not sue the author of an article critical of his role in the Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, that was posted on a Columbia University owned website.
Penn State Prof. of Journalsim R. Thomas Berner's commentary on the December 10 Australian Internet libel case highlights concerns voiced elsewhere that ramifications of the case may include blocking access to sites in other countries to avoid more such litigation.
There is evidence of a slow but steady groundswell of citizen concern about, and local government response to, increased online surveillance as a result of the Patriot Act. Wired highlighted the work of a new grassroots organization called the Bill of Rights Defence Committee that is assisting municipalities in the passage of resolutions opposing the Patriot Act and related executive orders. According to the organization, "21 cities, towns, and counties...have already passed resolutions."
Across the Atlantic, there is also growing concern over similar surveillance and data collection efforts focused on UK citizens. See this BBC article for details.
The High Court of Australia issued a ruling on December 10 in the Internet defamation case Dow Jones and Company v. Gutnick. The case may have global implications for the increasingly wired publishing world. It stipulates that Web publishers of any description (be they huge corporate entities or individual weblogers) can be sued anywhere in the world in which an individual contends the publication is available and has harmed/defamed him/her.
Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School have published a new report on Web censorship: Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China.
From the abstract: "The authors are collecting data on the methods, scope, and depth of selective barriers to Internet access through Chinese networks. Tests from May 2002 through November 2002 indicate at least four distinct and independently operable methods of Internet filtering, with a documentable leap in filtering sophistication beginning in September 2002."
Amnesty International has published a well researched report on the impact of state controls on Internet access to one of world's fasted growing population of users. The report provides a timeline that documents the imposition of various controls and regulations on Web access since its introduction to the public in 1995, and their impact on individuals and the society as a whole.
If you are interested in this issue, I refer you to related work on this topic referenced under my other postings here.
The controversial Child Online Protection Act which specifies the "requirement to restrict access by minors to materials commercially distributed by means of the World Wide Web that are harmful to minors," is currently under review again by U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. In May 2002, the Supreme Court remanded the case, Ashcroft v. ACLU, back to this court to once again consider the constitutionality of creating barriers to Internet access. The 3rd Circuit had granted a preliminary injunction in the case, ACLU v. Reno, in June 2002.
EPIC maintains a resource center with links to court and legislative documents from these cases.
The Free Expression Project, founded in 2000, is sustained by grants from a diverse group of backers that include the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. The organization advocates in court, through the publication of reports and surveys, and by the sponsorship of conferences, for an end to restrictions of expression on publicaly funded organizations such as libraries, museum, and universities.
The University of California at San Diego has taken alot of flack for their attempt to force a student site to remove web links to revolutionary groups on university owned servers. See my previous posting on this topic.
The University has now decided to recind their demand on basis of the students right to free speech, but maintains that the students should remove link to terrorist organizations from another site they operate.
The Student Press Law Center is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of the legal rights of student journalists. The site boasts excellent graphics and useful content that includes news releases, a legal resource center with links to materials on Press Freedom & Censorship, Access to Records, Meetings & Places, Cyberlaw: Internet & Online Media, Libel & Privacy Invasion, Protecting Sources & Information, Copyright Law and Advertising, and a State Open Records Law Request Letter Generator.
cyberSLAPP.org maintains a library of briefs for researchers to track cases in which users of e-mail or web sites were sued for their speech and ISP's were sued for access to personal data on such individuals.
There is a growing concern in the U.S. about state sponsored Internet censorship in countries throughout the world. Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman at Harvard are skillfully documenting this activity. Now Congress is responding to Web filtering with a bi-partisan legislative initiative, H.R. 5524. This bill seeks to "develop and deploy technologies to defeat Internet jamming and censorship."
Declan McCullagh's coverage of the RIAA v. Verizon cases notes that at issue are copyright, privacy and free speech arguments. The two companies are battling over access to the identity of a subscriber accused of file trading. Declan links to an amicus brief filed on behalf of Verizon by high profile advocacy groups that include EPIC and the EFF, which also happens to maintain an archive of links to legal documents on this case.
Cyber-critics, free speech and online anonymous web postings have become a combustable combination. The result is cyberSLAPP law suits, which seek to force ISPs to reveal the names of those who have posted anonymous statements critical of high profile individuals.
An example of just such a case involves a Pennsylvania judge and a now defunct web site, which I discussed in my posting, Judge v. Anonymous Web Critic.
To monitor cases and information on this issue, I recommend cyberSLAPP.org, founded in July 2002, and "sponsored by a coalition of civil liberties and privacy groups." Here you will find links to full-text of cyberSLAPP briefs and opinions.