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Free speech decision allows controversial anti-Islam film to air

The  Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed itself by finding that actor Cindy Lee Garcia could not force Google to remove a controversial video “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube. Garcia was upset with the message of the film and death threats she received after trailers of the film were released. (Hollywood Reporter, May 18, […]

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Free speech: Second Circuit bans ‘Choose Life’ license plate

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that New York could ban “Choose Life” license plates on the premise that the plates could inspire road rage.  The 3-member panel overturned a lower court decision in deciding that the intent of the law was to protect the public not to violate free speech rights. “We […]

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California: Oakland pays $9,500 to journalist over detention at demonstration

Oakland, California settled a dispute with an independent video journalism detained for jaywalking while documenting alleged police misconduct. The reporter was detained in July of 2o13 while filming police during a demonstration after George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. A lawyer for Jacob Crawford claimed that Oakland police routinely tried to pin […]

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Free speech issues examined after failed terrorist attack on Texas anti-Islam event

After the aborted terrorist attack at a Prophet Mohammad cartoon event in Texas, there was much criticism of the event’s sponsor Pamela Geller along with defenses of the event on free speech grounds. Writing in Time, May 6, 2015, Qasim Rashid downplays the free speech issue, saying that laws protecting hate speech were developed during […]

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Free speech: Questions persist over impact of U.S. Supreme Court ruling on judicial elections

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional for Florida to bar a candidate for a judge seat from sending out a mailing soliciting contributions and from asking for donations on her website. The candidate claimed the restriction violated her free speech rights. “The State may conclude that judges, […]

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Pennsylvania high school students resist prior restraint

In a classic case of prior restraint, police and school officials in a suburban Pittsburgh high school warned students against saying anything on or off campus about an investigation of three teachers variously charged with sexual assault and victim intimidation. In an assembly, the principal warned students “against tweets, posts, text, emails, conversations or any […]

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Journalists suffer corrosive effects of government surveillance

Now that the government has harnessed surveillance technology in monitoring journalists, they have been forced to invest in expensive and time-consuming counter measures to protect their sources. Journalists can now tap anti-surveillance tools including digital security guides and training programs and an anonymous tip line called SecureDrop that uses security and privacy software to encrypt […]

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Influential lobbyists can now be tracked in the California state legislature

A former California state senator is establishing a database allowing the public to discover how lobbyists influence legislation. San Blakeslee’s project will debut May 6 as the Digital Democracy Project (www.digitaldemocracy.org) with videos of legislative hearings. When politicians speak a simultaneous graphic of their major campaign contributors surfaces. When lobbyists speak, a list will appear […]

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Transparency: White House correspondents bidding for more access

White House reporters are drumming for increased access to campaigns by releasing a document with revised rules for treatment of the press. The White House Correspondents’ Association wants greater access particularly more opportunities to question Obama directly. (Politico, April 22, 2015, by Dylan Byers) Association president Christi Parsons has vigorously fought White House secrecy and […]

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Innocents’ deaths bring calls for openness on targeted drone killings

With the revelation that a U.S. drone strike in in Pakistan in January killed two hostages, aid workers Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, there are renewed calls for greater transparency about the strikes and their collateral damage. Human rights groups have long urged the Obama administration to disclose enough information about the drone strikes […]

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