News & Opinion

ACLU, EFF target Tennesse school district rules on tech and social media

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation have asked a Tennessee school district to change its policies governing computers and smartphones and use of social media on and off campus. The policies require students engaged in student activities and those who wish to use school computers to sign off on the policies […]

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Initiative launched to shore up press freedom after repeated violations during Ferguson protests

With a report in hand of 52 charges of violations of freedom of press during the Ferguson protests,  an association of writers is asking for the federal government to investigate. PEN America Center is asking the Justice Department to create new guidelines for local police departments in treating the press during public demonstrations. (The New […]

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New Pennsylvania law passed to silence convicts

To response to graduation speeches by controversial convict Mumia Abu-Jamal, now serving a life sentence in Pennsylvania for murdering a Philadelphia policeman, the state legislature passed a law allowing victims of a crime to sue a convict for conduct causing “mental anguish.” The law attempts to evade the First Amendment by targeting conduct rather than […]

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Free speech fight focuses on parody of trademark

A Virginia federal court recently ruled that a trademark would prevent a parody of the NAACP in naming the group “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.” The Radiance Foundation was objecting to the liberal stances of the group that excluded any significant pro-life activities, but was told by the court that its parody […]

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California town council shuts down meeting over messge on hat

The Santa Ana City Council sparked a free speech debate over a hat with anti-police lyrics. After a man refused to take off the hat which read “—- the police,” the mayor cancelled a city council meeting. A local law professor cited a U.S. Supreme Court case, Cohen v. California, in arguing that the man […]

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Obama favors net neutrality, against fast lanes

President Barack Obama again expressed his opposition to preferential treatment for certain websites who could pay providers for faster lanes. He wants the Federal Communications Commission to treat broadband as  a public utility. (GigaOm, October 10, 2014, by Jeff John Roberts) Obama was careful to say that the FCC was an independent agency not subject […]

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Virginia volunteer fire fighters lose free speech case in federal court

Two Virginia volunteer firefighters lost in federal court when a jury ruled that their department did not violate their free speech rights in suspending one and firing the other. The two firefighters accused the department of acting to quell their criticism of decisions on equipment and funding. The jury could not find that criticism was […]

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Transparency: Twitter takes federal government to court over surveillance data

Twitter is challenging the federal government in court over federal efforts to curb their ability to release the details of requests for surveillance. The company has been trying to negotiate a more liberal policy on the issue but failing that is suing the government on First Amendment grounds. (Wired, October 7, 2014, by Kim Zetter) […]

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Brown Act roundup: Reporter who inspired open meeting act dies

The intrepid political reporter whose work led to the passage of California’s open meeting law has died. He was 92. In his first year with the San Francisco Chronicle, Walter Harris found himself thrown out of meetings of local agencies that should have been open to the public and media. He wrote a 10-part series, […]

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Georgia: Challenge can proceed on ban on videotaping city council meeting

A federal district judge is allowing a suit to proceed pitting a online news photographer against the town officials of Cumming, Georgia over her right to videotape a city council meeting. The photographer, Nydia Tisdale, claims her rights were violated when the police seized her camera and used force to remove her from the meeting. […]

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