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Category Archives: Free Speech

Video: How the Court System Is Abused to Chill Activist Speech

EFF: “One of the most pernicious forms of censorship in modern America is the abuse of the court system by corporations and wealthy individuals to harass, intimidate, and silence their critics. We use the term “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” more commonly known as a “SLAPP,” to describe this phenomenon. With a SLAPP, a malicious party will file a lawsuit against a person whose speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment. The strategy isn’t to win on the legal merits, but to censor their victims through burdensome, distracting, and costly litigation. SLAPP suits often make spurious defamation claims and demand outrageous monetary penalties to bully their enemies.  In EFF’s work, we’ve seen SLAPPs deployed against journalists and bloggers, cartoonists, and even people who have posted reviews on websites like Yelp and eBay. They’ve been used by election power players against their political opponents and by corporations against non-profits whose job is to hold them in check. In fact, EFF faced such a scheme when an Australian company filed a lawsuit to censor one of our “Stupid Patent of the Month” articles.  Although EFF won in court, the lawsuit required resources that we otherwise could have devoted to other battles…”

Jameel Jaffer: Government Secrecy in the Age of Information Overload

“Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and former Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU, delivered the tenth annual Salant Lecture on Freedom of the Press at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on October 17,  2017, entitled “Government Secrecy in the Age of Information Overload.” Following is a… Continue Reading

The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America

Americans Say Political Correctness Has Silenced Discussions Society Needs to Have; Most Have Views They’re Afraid to Share “Nearly three-fourths (71%) of Americans believe that political correctness has done more to silence important discussions our society needs to have. A little more than a quarter (28%) instead believe that political correctness has done more to… Continue Reading

Carter Journalism Institute Launches “First Amendment Watch” to Highlight, Analyze Threats to Freedom of Expression

“The Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute has launched First Amendment Watch —an online resource that goes beyond the headlines to provide much-needed coverage and context to the debate over freedom of expression. NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute has launched First Amendment Watch—an online resource that goes beyond the headlines to provide much-needed coverage and… Continue Reading

Twitter in the news – terms of service – tweet length increases to 280 characters – role in Russian election interference

Columbia Journalism Review – “This week, following an incendiary tweet by President Trump toward North Korea, Twitter is making an update to its terms of service. The social media company will now consider newsworthiness alongside its other criteria in determining whether to allow speech on its platform…By deciding what is newsworthy, Twitter will effectively be… Continue Reading

NYT – Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web

The web is not as open as it once was, with nation-states exerting their power over the internet: “…Facebook encapsulates the reasons for the internet’s fragmentation — and increasingly, its consequences. The company has become so far-reaching that more than two billion people — about a quarter of the world’s population — now use Facebook… Continue Reading

Paper – Freedom of racist speech: Ego and expressive threats.

Freedom of racist speech: Ego and expressive threats. Mark H White, University of Kansas; Christian S Crandall, University of Kansas. J Pers Soc Psychol 2017 Sep 17;113(3):413-429. Epub 2017 Apr 17. Department of Psychology, University of Kansas. “Do claims of “free speech” provide cover for prejudice? We investigate whether this defense of racist or hate… Continue Reading

Implementation of facial recognition technology widens across the world

The Economist: “…Technology is rapidly catching up with the human ability to read faces. In America facial recognition is used by churches to track worshippers’ attendance; in Britain, by retailers to spot past shoplifters. This year Welsh police used it to arrest a suspect outside a football game. In China it verifies the identities of… Continue Reading

Online Employee Idea Forum at State Dept. Closed Down

Government Executive: “At the end of August, State Department employees will lose access to the in-house employee online forum called Sounding Board, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s staff announced in a departmentwide email on Aug. 17. Employees were told to archive any previous discussion items of interest because the past content will not be archived,… Continue Reading

Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online

Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University – “This collection of essays includes perspectives on and approaches to harmful speech online from a wide range of voices within the Berkman Klein Center community. Recognizing that harmful speech online is an increasingly prevalent issue within society, we intend for the collection to highlight… Continue Reading

Sunlight Foundation – On Trump, transparency and democracy

“In this report, we offer a comprehensive but not exhaustive accounting of the Trump administration’s record on open government to date…In the following report, organized into sections we consider the record to date, in context. Six months from now, we will compare and contrast the Trump administration’s progress — or further regression — with the… Continue Reading

EFF Sues DOJ For Records on Procedures for Ending National Security Letter Gag Orders

EFF news release:  “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the Justice Department today to obtain records that can shed light on whether the FBI is complying with a Congressional mandate that it periodically review and lift National Security Letter (NSL) gag orders that are no longer needed. The FBI has issued as many as 500,000… Continue Reading