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Category Archives: Free Speech

76 things you can do to boost civic engagement

Brookings: “The year 1776 was an auspicious year for democracy. The idea that a people could govern themselves was radical at the time. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that followed are for most Americans revered documents and a cornerstone of our democracy. Over the years, this idea of democratic republicanism has become central to American identity, and yet without citizen participation, the government of, by, and for the people will not last. Ben Franklin famously said, “A republic, if you can keep it,” when asked what form of government the founders had created. He was charging “we the people” with the responsibility of protecting self-government. The mix of dysfunctional politics and lack of emphasis on civic education has, among other things, led many Americans to be highly skeptical about the very foundations of our democratic form of government. In the 1960s, amid civil rights protests and the Vietnam war, Americans were deeply divided politically, but according to the Pew Research Center, the vast majority—almost 80 percent—trusted the government to do the right thing always or most of the time. Today, less than 20 percent of the American public trusts the government. And for many young people, the idea of self-government is no longer sacrosanct. Almost one in four Americans thinks a dictator, namely a “strong leader that doesn’t have to deal with Congress or elections,” could be a good way to run our country…”

While by no means comprehensive, the “Democracy 76” list… provides specific and practical actions that we all can take to be an involved citizen. The list is broken into five actions that are essential components for engagement. It is expressly free from politics and partisanship and should be undertaken by all Americans—regardless of political perspectives or affiliation…”

Freedom on the Net 2019 The Crisis of Social Media

Freedom House – “Governments around the world are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens, tilting the technology toward digital authoritarianism. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year, according to Freedom on the Net 2019, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment… Continue Reading

We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally

Via @Jack – Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey –  “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should… Continue Reading

BBC News launches ‘dark web’ Tor mirror

BBC News: “The BBC has made its international news website available via Tor, in a bid to thwart censorship attempts. Tor is a privacy-focused web browser used to access pages on the dark web. The browser can obscure who is using it and what data is being accessed, which can help people avoid government surveillance… Continue Reading

Insult of Public Officials: A Free Speech Perspective

Bezemek, Christoph, Insult of Public Officials: A Free Speech Perspective (June 12, 2019). Forthcoming in Schauer/Stone (eds), Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech (2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3435996 “Free speech, it is said, is the necessary prerequisite to “speak truth to power”. And of course: those in power may often (or maybe even: typically) dislike… Continue Reading

US border officials are increasingly denying entry to travelers over others’ social media

TechCrunch: “Travelers are increasingly being denied entry to the United States as border officials hold them accountable for messages, images and video on their devices sent by other people. It’s a bizarre set of circumstances that has seen countless number of foreign nationals rejected from the U.S. after friends, family or even strangers send messages,… Continue Reading

White House Blocked Report on Climate Change and National Security

The New York Times – The White House Blocked My Report on Climate Change and National Security – Politics intruded on science and intelligence. “That’s why I quit my job as an analyst for the State Department. Ten years ago, I left my job as a tenured university professor to work as an intelligence analyst… Continue Reading

LC Report – Limits on Freedom of Expression

“This report examines the scope of protection extended to freedom of speech in 13 selected countries. In particular, the report focuses on the limits of protection that may apply to the right to interrupt or affect in any other way public speech. The report also addresses the availability of mechanisms to control foreign broadcasters working… Continue Reading

Many Americans Say Made-Up News Is a Critical Problem That Needs To Be Fixed

Pew – Politicians viewed as major creators made-up news, but journalists seen as the ones who should fix it – “Many Americans say the creation and spread of made-up news and information is causing significant harm to the nation and needs to be stopped, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 6,127 U.S.… Continue Reading

How China Is Planning to Rank 1.3 Billion People

Bloomberg: ” China has a radical plan to influence the behavior of its 1.3 billion people: It wants to grade each of them on aspects of their lives to reflect how good (or bad) a citizen they are. Versions of the so-called social credit system are being tested in a dozen cities with the aim… Continue Reading

Human Rights Watch World Report 2019

“World Report 2019 is Human Rights Watch’s 29th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events from late 2017 through November 2018. In his keynote essay, “World’s Autocrats Face Rising Resistance,” Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth… Continue Reading