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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Why the Most Educated People in America Fall for Anti-Semitic Lies

The Atlantic [read free] “By now, December’s congressional hearing about anti-Semitism at universities, during which the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT all claimed that calls for the genocide of Jews would violate their university’s policies only “depending on the context,” is already a well-worn meme. Surely there is nothing left to say about this higher-education train wreck, after the fallout brought down two of those university presidents and spawned a thousand op-eds—except that all of the punditry about diversity and free speech and criticism of Israel has extravagantly missed the point. The problem was not that Jewish students on American university campuses didn’t want free speech, or that they didn’t want to hear criticism of Israel. Instead, they didn’t want people vandalizing Jewish student organizations’ buildings, or breaking or urinating on the buildings’ windows. They didn’t want people tearing their mezuzahs down from their dorm-room doors. They didn’t want their college instructors spouting anti-Semitic lies and humiliating them in class. They didn’t want their posters defaced with Hitler caricatures, or their dorm windows plastered with F##k Jews. They didn’t want people punching them in the face, or beating them with a stick, or threatening them with death for being Jewish. At world-class American colleges and universities, all of this happened and more. I was not merely an observer of this spectacle. I’d been serving on now–former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, convened after the October 7 Hamas massacre in Israel and amid student responses to it. I was asked to participate because I am a Harvard alumna who wrote a book about anti-Semitism called People Love Dead Jews. As soon as my participation became public, I was inundated with messages from Jewish students seeking help. They approached me with their stories after having already tried many other avenues—bewildered not only by what they’d experienced, but also by how many people dismissed or denied those experiences…”

Wyden Reveals Phone Data Used to Target Abortion Misinformation at Visitors to Hundreds of Reproductive Health Clinics

“U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., revealed today that an anti-abortion political group used mobile phone location data to send targeted misinformation to people who visited any of 600 reproductive health clinics in 48 states. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission, Wyden urged the government to act quickly to… Continue Reading

Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers

“Our nation incarcerates more than 1.2 million people in state and federal prisons, and two out of three of these incarcerated people are also workers. In most instances, the jobs these nearly 800,000 incarcerated workers have look similar to those of millions of people working on the outside. But there are two crucial differences: Incarcerated… Continue Reading

Legal Treatises and the Evolution of Civil Rights Case Law

Bahnson, Jane and Shreve, Wickliffe, Legal Treatises and the Evolution of Civil Rights Case Law (November 7, 2023). Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2023-68, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4626237 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4626237 – “During the 2022 term, the Supreme Court cited treatises to change legal precedent in two important civil rights cases. We… Continue Reading

Buying Spying: How the commercial surveillance industry works and what can be done about it

Google: “Spyware is typically used to monitor and collect data from high-risk users like journalists, human rights defenders, dissidents and opposition party politicians. These capabilities have grown the demand for spyware technology, making way for a lucrative industry used to sell governments and nefarious actors the ability to exploit vulnerabilities in consumer devices. Though the… Continue Reading

Israel Privately Estimates as Many as 50 Hostages Could Be Dead

“As many as 50 hostages whom Hamas abducted during its Oct. 7 attack could be dead, Israel said privately. The figure, presented during recent talks in Cairo, according to Egyptian officials, has been key in negotiating the release of hostages—alive and dead (🔐 read for free). Israel has publicly acknowledged 29 deaths. If the private… Continue Reading

“Cast as Criminals, America’s Librarians Rally to Their Own Defense”

The New York Times [read free]: “…As America’s libraries have become noisy and sometimes dangerous new battlegrounds in the nation’s culture wars, librarians like Ms. Neujahr and their allies have moved from the stacks to the front lines. People who normally preside over hushed sanctuaries are now battling groups that demand the mass removal of… Continue Reading

Google’s Location Data Policy Update

EPIC: “In December 2023, Google announced an update to its location data policy to provide users with more control over their sensitive location information. While this seems like a promising step in the right direction, we should be mindful of Google’s long history of failing to uphold its privacy obligations and vigilant in monitoring Google’s… Continue Reading

Police Departments Are Turning to AI to Sift Through Millions of Hours of Unreviewed Body-Cam Footage

ProPublica: “…Axon, the nation’s largest provider of police cameras and of cloud storage for the video they capture, has a database of footage that has grown from around 6 terabytes in 2016 to more than 100 petabytes today. That’s enough to hold more than 5,000 years of high definition video, or 25 million copies of… Continue Reading

New York State Passes Law That Could Have Counted Trump’s Actions as Rape

Mother Jones: “On Tuesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation broadening the state’s definition of rape, eliminating the penile penetration requirement. The bill, “Rape Is Rape,” expands the law to include nonconsensual anal, oral, and vaginal sexual contact. Starting in September, New York will be like many other states: The penal code will not limit rape to… Continue Reading

Right-Wing Extremist Terrorism in the United States

ADL Report – “Right-wing extremist terror incidents in the U.S. have been increasing since the mid-2000s, but the past six years have seen their sharpest rise yet. There were just seven right-wing terror incidents in the period 2005-2007, but by 2017-2019 there were 27, which increased to 40 in 2020-2022. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center… Continue Reading

The thorny push to put body cameras in hospitals and stores

Fast Company: “Once, body cameras were attached only to cops, part of an effort to produce more evidence, de-escalate tense situations, and reduce force and abuse. The jury is still out on how effective they are, but the technology is spreading fast, and not just within policing. Increasingly, other sectors have adopted the cameras, and… Continue Reading